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Three Weeks Past the Court-Ordered Family Reunification Deadline, Trump Celebrates and Promotes Those Responsible

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 Last night we learned the total number of children that remained separated from their parents has actually increased. Based on new numbers released last night, 565 children (up from 559) are still separated, including 24 children who are 5 years of age and under. This is deeply disturbing confirmation that the Trump administration continues to drag its feet.

A normal Administration would be holding emergency meetings to comply with a federal court order. A normal Congress would be conducting aggressive oversight hearings and investigations aimed at holding accountable those responsible for this moral catastrophe and ensuring that it never happens again. A fully functioning democracy would be demanding resignations of the officials in charge and considering prosecutions.

But there is nothing normal about this Administration, this Congress or this political moment. Instead of taking decisive action to unwind the crisis and hold people accountable, President Trump is celebrating the agents who separated kids from their parents and promoting the leaders who designed and executed the policy.

  • Trump Administration to fete ICE at White House celebration next Monday: As Politico’s Ted Hesson reported last night, “Trump White House is planning an event next week to honor federal immigration agents — even as more than 500 migrant children remain separated from their parents after being separated at the border. The “Salute to the Heroes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs [and] Border Protection” is scheduled for Aug. 20 in the East Room, an administration official confirmed, in the latest signal that the Trump administration anticipates the midterm fallout from its zero-tolerance border policy very differently from its critics.
  • Kathy Kraninger, nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): While at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Kraninger’s portfolio included oversight over DHS and DOJ and she was involved in meetings to shape and implement the family separation policy. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown have been seeking additional answers and accountability about Kraninger’s role and offering reminders why anyone involved with this monstrous policy does not deserve a promotion. So far, they are being stonewalled.
  • Ronald Vitiello, nominee to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Vitiello  helped shape and implement the family separation debacle from his current perch at CBP and deserves to be held accountable for his role in state-sanctioned child abuse. Instead, he is being rewarded with a nomination for a promotion.
  • Carla Provost, nominee to head Customs and Border Patrol (CBP): Provost, who has been serving as acting chief of the Border Patrol, has been nominated to lead the agency on a permanent basis. According to the New York Times, “Ms. Provost’s official move to the top job comes at a moment of transition for the agency, as the Trump administration pushes forward with plans to add an additional 5,000 agents to carry out the president’s plans to more aggressively target illegal immigration. The agency has frequently come under fire for its immigration checkpoints up to 100 miles away from the border and for its role in the Trump administration’s so-called zero-tolerance policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of families at the southwest border. Ms. Provost defends the actions of the Border Patrol.”

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

The kidnapping and abuse of children, including infants and toddlers, is one of the darkest chapters in our generation. Most Americans are outraged and want the Trump administration take immediate action to reunite separated families. The government is under federal court order to do so, and has failed to fully comply. The leaders and agents who participated in this travesty should be investigated and held accountable. Instead, President Trump holds a celebration for the agents who took babies from the arms of their parents and promotes the leaders who designed and implemented this cruel and inhumane policy. On Monday, as agents and White House officials slap each other on the back while imbibing drinks and hors d’oeuvres, more than 500 traumatized children remain in federal custody, far from the loving embrace of their parents. History will judge this episode, and the people responsible for it, very harshly.