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To Understand What’s Happening With Unaccompanied Minors, Listen to Leading Observers

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As Republicans try to whitewash Trump’s record, stoke fear over Brown kids at the border, and blame the Biden administration, leading observers are pushing back about all of the above. These expert voices add context to the coverage of the border and Biden’s policies toward unaccompanied minors. 

  • Jacob Soboroff of NBC News: Soboroff, one of the leading chroniclers of the horrors of Trump’s family separation, tweeted: “Claiming the Biden admin is adopting an ‘open borders’ immigration policy is ridiculous.” He added: “Trump didn’t let kids into USA, blaming COVID. Biden is, appealing to humanity. But he can’t reform system fast enough to prevent border backups.” 
  • Jennifer Podkul, vice-president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) to The New Yorker: “[T]hese aren’t brand new cases of people setting out for the U.S. These are kids who’ve been waiting at the border, in some cases for more than a year … I’ve seen the conditions in Mexico and in C.B.P. holding cells at the border, and children aren’t safe in either of them.”
  • Jonathan Blitzer analysis in The New Yorker,Biden Has Few Good Options for the Unaccompanied Children at the Border: Blitzer’s piece is a nuanced overview on the chaos Trump left behind and the challenges confronting the Biden administration to live up to their stated goal of establishing a safe and orderly set of processes.
  • Erika Andiola of RAICES in a must-read Twitter thread: “Folks, people were migrating with Trump was president! When Obama was president. When Bush was president. When Clinton was president… and I can go on. Why? Because there are crises around the world ALL THE TIME and people leave (right @tedcruz?). So why are we surprised? … Why can’t we accept this reality and prepare ourselves every year. Is it xenophobia? Is it fear? You know what we should fear. Not the migrant child coming on their own. Fear the fact that in the richest country in the world, you cant even get your gov to raise the minimum wage.”
  • Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum said in a Twitter thread: “Nothing at the border right now is a surprise. Therefore, it should not escalate to a crisis. The Biden administration needs to put in place the infrastructure, logistics and processes to manage the border … A crisis is when Trump expelled thousands of migrant children back to Mexico, strong armed/bribed unsafe countries to pretend to be safe countries, and forced thousands of families to wait in Mexico while eviscerating the immigration system … Instead of allowing some politicians to scare Americans into thinking the worst, we should be proud of the way our country, the most powerful nation in the world, is treating children and families.”
  • Ron Klain, White House Chief of Staff, to Punchbowl News: “[W]e inherited a real mess. We inherited the facilities we have. We are committed to a policy that follows the rule of law and that is humane. And we are doing our best to surge capacity to the border, particularly for these children who arrived here without parents, to house them in a way that is safe, to house them in a way that’s humane and help ultimately reunite them with either family they have in this country or sponsors who are willing to take them in in this country. That takes time and that is not something you can do overnight … I’m not going to deny that this is one of the most vexing problems we face and it is a very difficult situation. But I will tell you we had some of the president’s senior advisers down there over the weekend. We are focused on this like a laser.”
  • Greg Sargent of the Washington Post tweeted, “Don’t let the people who destroyed our immigration system and ideals get away with gaming the debate with bad faith lies about the current effort to clean up their mess. They have zero standing. No one should grant them any credibility.”

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Donald Trump and Stephen Miller ignored our laws, trampled on our ideals, used the pretext of the pandemic to advance a nativist wish list of policies by fiat, and ripped toddlers and teenagers from their parents — all to send a dehumanizing deterrence message to those fleeing for their lives and a racist dog-whistle message to their white grievance voters. Now they and Republicans have the audacity to whitewash their shameful record and to blame the Biden administration for trying to re-inject basic humanity into a system dismantled by Trump. 

We will continue to push the administration to make good on its promises, and to do so as quickly as possible. And, we understand the mess they inherited, and how challenging it will be to transition from a four-year campaign of demonizing, deterring, detaining and deporting migrants and refugees to system that protects refugees, manages migration, and over time, makes migration a matter of choice not a matter of life and death.