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The Willful Incompetence of the Trump Administration is Failing to Resolve the Family Separation Crisis

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It’s increasingly clear that the Trump administration is unable and unwilling to meet a Tuesday deadline, imposed by a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush, to reunite 102 children younger than 5 years old who remain separated from their parents.

Not long ago, Trump administration officials reassured Congress and the public that everything was under control. They had the data, the plan and the ability to reunite families. Late last week, however, the Trump administration filed a last minute request to the court saying that they needed more time to meet the reunification deadlines. Judge Sabraw rejected the request and remained steadfast in calling for the government to reunite the full set of children under 5 (a list of at least 102 children) by Tuesday. According to the lead litigants in the case, the ACLU, the Trump administration will fail to reunite more than half these children in time for the deadline.

It appears the reassurances of accurate record-keeping were untrue. As the New York Times reported last week:

Records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, according to two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members. The effort is complicated by the fact that two federal agencies are involved in detaining and sheltering migrants, and they did not initially share records with each other.

Meanwhile, Trump administration officials are busy blaming others and attempting to change the subject instead of marshaling our resources to fix this moral crisis of historic proportions.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Beginning in April, the Trump administration mobilized to separate thousands of families, but now that they are under court order to reunite them, they are dragging their feet. This is nothing less than a jaw-dropping mixture of incompetence and malevolence. HHS Secretary Alex Azar is pointing fingers and shifting blame; President Trump is trying to change the subject and pass the buck; DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is hiding under her desk; the Sessions/Miller team is staying out of the public and presumably high-fiving now that they created the crisis they dreamed of. Meanwhile, the Republican Congress is missing in action, failing to conduct oversight or launch investigations into one of the darkest scandals of our generation.

Meanwhile, first-person accounts of the horrors of the family separation policy continue to emerge. ProPublica reports that Jimena Madrid, the six-year old girl whose anguished voice ricocheted around the world several weeks ago after being separated from her mother, remains separated 1,000 miles away from her mom. AP reports on one-year old childrenwithout their parents, appearing at court dates in front of an immigration judge.  And PBS Newshour and Adam Klasfeld of Courthouse News unearthed damning details embedded in a lawsuit filed by states last week challenging the Trump administration’s family separation policy – a reminder of what is at stake. As Judy Woodruff of PBS Newshour tweeted, “14 month old boy separated from immigrant parents at the border, was returned after 85 days, covered with lice, had apparently not been bathed…”

The clock ticks. The kids cry. The parents worry. The government delays. The world watches. Our nation hurts.