[Discussion] Separating and/or Detaining Families at the US-Mexico Border

Just figured we could collect this mess in one thread.

Well, in DC they say that Stephen Miller's dark soul grew three sizes that day.

OG_slinger wrote:

And once those border agents "protect" immigrant children by taking them away from their "criminal" parents, they're handing them over to detention camps staffed by people who haven't been properly vetted by the FBI for child abuse or neglect according to a Health and Human Services inspector general memo released today.

According to the AP, the report found that the Trump administration waived the requirement for at least one camp in Tornillo, Texas to have its 2,100 staffers background checked by the FBI.

This camp was opened back in June to hold 360 migrant children. There are now over 2,300 kids there.

I'm sure the group running the camp has been super careful to vet its staff and they totally haven't just been throwing any warm body they could hire to fix the problem the Trump administration created.

Uh, about that:

In Immigrant Children’s Shelters, Sexual Assault Cases Are Open and Shut: Across the country, kids are reporting sexual assaults in immigrant children’s shelters. Alex decided to come forward. He told the shelter two older teens dragged him into a bedroom. There was surveillance video. But Alex's case wasn't investigated. His isn’t the only one.

Are we trying to write a case study on how to create terrorists and organized crime? We are doing a really good job of it with how these kids are going to turn out. I hope the people responsible for this program are held accountable soon. And I don't mean just lose their jobs.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection shared additional information about the boy.

He and his father were detained, held in the field for three hours, and then transported to the Paso Del Norte Port, which was a 15 minute drive away. There they were held for three days. They received six welfare checks over that three day period.

Then the boy and his father were transferred to El Paso Border Patrol Station where they were held for two days.

Then about 11:30PM on the 22nd, the boy and his father were transferred yet again to the Alamogordo Border Patrol Station because the El Paso Border Station was too full. They arrived there after 1:00AM on the 23rd. Agents didn't notice the kid's condition until 9:00AM on the 24th.

After being treated at the hospital for a common cold, the boy and the father were placed in a temporary holding facility at the Highway 70 checkpoint. There were no medical staff on duty when the boy vomited in the evening. Officials claim the father refused medical assistance at this time. Two hours later the kid was lethargic and vomiting again so border agents transported him back to the hospital. He died in transit.

It should also be noted that no one is supposed to be detained in the field for longer than 72 hours. The boy and his father were detained in the field for nearly twice as long.

But according to twitter and article comments, the border agents were all wonderful and it's entirely the father's fault that his kid died because he was breaking the law.

Just a friendly reminder - if you've got the money to do so, consider donating to one of the charities helping immigrant children and families.

I saw this...it is so sickening it is hard to even feel anything but despair

Looks like the Trump administration was separating children at the border a full year before their "zero-tolerance" policy went into effect.

Not only that, but no one involved was prepared for it, and, consequently "thousands" of immigrant children were released to who the f*ck knows because there was no procedure or tracking process put in place. And "thousands" of children is the best estimate we can give because, again, no one was prepared for the impact of Trump's policies.

Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Report on Separated Children Placed in Office of Refugee Resettlement Care wrote:

According to ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] officials and staff, in the summer of 2017, staff observed a significant increase in the number and proportion of separated children (i.e., children separated from their parent or legal guardian by DHS) relative to other UACs [Unaccompanied Alien Children]. Staff had begun informally tracking separations in 2016, recognizing that additional information and effort was required to locate parents of separated children. Although this tracking was not comprehensive, it provided adequate information to alert ORR intake staff to significant trends. ORR officials noted that, according to this tracking, the proportion of separated children rose from approximately 0.3 percent of all UAC intakes in late 2016 to 3.6 percent by August 2017.

The increase in separated children posed operational challenges for the UAC program. In a November 2017 email that OIG [Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General] reviewed, an ORR official stated that separated children were often very young, that these younger children required placement at specially licensed facilities, and that “the numbers of these very young UAC resulting from separations has on some dates resulted in shortfalls of available beds.”

Due to these operational concerns, ORR staff continued to informally track separations. For example, staff initially recorded separated children on an Excel spreadsheet if they were identified by DHS as separated at intake; this was later replaced by a SharePoint database with greater ability to incorporate information from field staff, including reports from shelters when they identified separated children in their care. However, use of these tools was not formalized in procedures, and access was limited.

Overall, ORR and ASPR [Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, an HHS department responsible for coordinating medical and public health responses to natural disasters and emergencies] officials estimate that thousands of separated children entered ORR care and were released prior to the June 26, 2018, court order. Because the tracking systems in use at that time were informal and designed for operational purposes rather than retrospective reporting, ORR was unable to provide a more precise estimate or specific information about these children’s placements (for example, whether the children were released to sponsors who were relatives, sponsors who were non-relatives, foster care, etc.). These children did not have parents covered by the court order; therefore, they were not included in the Ms. L v. ICE reunification process.17 Rather, in general, placement and release decisions would have followed the same procedures as for other UAC, i.e., ORR seeks to identify a qualified sponsor, including a parent or other close relative if one can be located and vetted in a timely way.

Kirstjen Nielsen's denials of the existance of the separation policy sure look even worse in light of this.

I don't expect the US courts to take this seriously, but it looks like DHS has been conducting systematic genocide on our southern border for the past two years.

Oversight is a helluva drug!

CBS: Migrant children in U.S. are being held in unlicensed shelters, lawyers say

Some facilities holding unaccompanied migrant children are operating illegally without licenses and committing several other violations, according to a team of lawyers who oversee a court-ordered agreement dictating where — and how — the government can house the children.

The lawyers sent the Justice Department a list of more than a dozen facilities that failed to produce licenses when inspected. One of them is a rapidly expanding facility in Homestead, Florida. It is the largest facility for unaccompanied children in the country, and run by a company that cannot access the state's child abuse background system, because it does not have the required license.

Licensing and oversight of those shelters must be the "obsolete" immigration laws Trump said were making us the laughing stock of the world.

Knowing his obsession with the southern border he’s probably referring to jus soli citizenship (birth on US soil). It’s an almost exclusively Western Hemisphere idea.

Blind_Evil wrote:

Knowing his obsession with the southern border he’s probably referring to jus soli citizenship (birth on US soil). It’s an almost exclusively Western Hemisphere idea.

And it is part of the US due to the 14th Amendment, which, among other things, made the Dred Scott decision decisively unconstitutional. We have birthright citizenship to protect against things like kidnapping people into slavery and making their children stateless.

Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite migrant families

Chicago Tribune wrote:

The Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite what may be thousands of migrant children who have been separated from their parents and, even if it could, the children would likely be emotionally harmed.

Jonathan White, who leads the Health and Human Services Department's efforts to reunite migrant children with their parents, said removing children from "sponsor" homes to rejoin their parents "would present grave child welfare concerns." He said the government should focus on reuniting children currently in its custody, not those who have already been released to sponsors.

"It would destabilize the permanency of their existing home environment, and could be traumatic to the children," White said in a court filing late Friday, citing his years of experience working with unaccompanied migrant children and background as a social worker.

The administration outlined its position in a court-ordered response to a government watchdog report last month that found many more migrant children may have been split from their families than previously reported. The government didn't adequately track separated children before a federal judge in San Diego ruled in June that children in its custody be reunited with their parents.

...

Jallyn Sualog, deputy director of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in Friday's filing that it would take up to eight hours to review each of its 47,083 cases between July 1, 2017, and Sabraw's June order, which translates to 100 employees working up to 471 days. Such an assignment would "substantially imperil" operations without a "rapid, dramatic expansion" in staffing.

The vast majority of children are released to relatives, but many of them are not parents. Of children released to sponsors in the 2017 fiscal year, 49 percent went to parents, 41 percent to close relatives like an aunt, uncle, grandparent or adult sibling and 10 percent to distant relatives, family friends and others.

Sualog, echoing White's concerns, said the government would lack legal authority to take children from their sponsors and "doing so would be so disruptive and harmful to the child."

"Disrupting the family relationship is not a recommended child welfare practice," Sualog wrote.

OG_slinger wrote:

Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite migrant families

Chicago Tribune wrote:

Jallyn Sualog, deputy director of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement, said in Friday's filing that it would take up to eight hours to review each of its 47,083 cases between July 1, 2017, and Sabraw's June order, which translates to 100 employees working up to 471 days. Such an assignment would "substantially imperil" operations without a "rapid, dramatic expansion" in staffing.

Ok, let's do that then, because I'm really leaning towards the "47,083 employees doing this in 1 day" end of the spectrum.

Can’t get that many people to sign up for government work on short notice.

The thought of thousands of kids and parents who will never be reunited is sickening. How on earth are they going to reunite especially young children who cannot be visually identified by their parents. Or is it the case they're giving up and using separation trauma from foster carers as justification for not bothering.

For Stephen Miller and Trump, the outrage over the separations is a feature, not a bug. They wanted to show the world how horrible they are to immigrants in order to free them. And like all evil plans, it just set them on a path to have to be even worse and worse as it has had little impact on immigration.

I mean, illegal immigration has been dropping rapidly for years. What we get now are families in the most dire of situations, so the risk is still worth it.

And, yes, this makes us the baddies.

OG_slinger wrote:

Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite migrant families

Chicago Tribune wrote:

"Disrupting the family relationship is not a recommended child welfare practice," Sualog wrote.

That's irony thick enough to block nuclear radiation.

Bfgp wrote:

Or is it the case they're giving up and using separation trauma from foster carers as justification for not bothering.

That's the new argument.

The prior argument was that DHS was so completely unprepared for Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that they didn't bother to establish any methods, procedures, or capabilities to make sure that the children could be reunited with their parents.

They literally just grabbed the kids and fed them into an ad hoc system that was more concerned about just finding a place they could house them because there were so many of them. The parents were chucked into our normal immigration system, which prioritizes deporting them as quickly as possible.

Blind_Evil wrote:

Can’t get that many people to sign up for government work on short notice.

I know we can't literally get 48k people hired and trained tomorrow, but lets keep in perspective that we've got 2,000,000 Federal Employees. 48k man-days translates to 35 Federal Government Minutes. We're not talking about the Manhattan Project here. When these people argue that we can't fix our crimes against humanity because it's too difficult to double check that we know who we abducted, who we abducted them from, and who we gave them to, we need to call bullsh*t.

Chicago Tribune wrote:

The Trump administration says it would require extraordinary effort to reunite what may be thousands of migrant children who have been separated from their parents and, even if it could, the children would likely be emotionally harmed.

To the administration: You've accomplished the second part already, so don't let that stop you.

To be honest that article made me feel a bit better, because of this part:

The vast majority of children are released to relatives, but many of them are not parents. Of children released to sponsors in the 2017 fiscal year, 49 percent went to parents, 41 percent to close relatives like an aunt, uncle, grandparent or adult sibling and 10 percent to distant relatives, family friends and others.

So 90% went to parents or close relatives. The subset of the 10% that went to 'others' is the worrisome bit, and all of the kids and babies that still haven't been released. I agree that I don't think the government needs to go out and rip kids out of their aunt's house because they can't find the mother, that is dumb. But the kids still in custody and that went to foster care or random places deserve to go back to their families and we should exhaust all means of making that happen.

If they need to hire or transfer 1,000 people to make that happen, so be it. I guess the military will have to make do with one less F35.

LeapingGnome wrote:

If they need to hire or transfer 1,000 people to make that happen, so be it. I guess the military will have to make do with one less F35.

Oh, here's an idea: We can use the $5,000,000,000.00 that we can save by not building a wall.

Turns out that traumatizing children was explicitly part of the plan:

NBC: Trump admin weighed targeting migrant families, speeding up deportation of children: A draft plan obtained by NBC News also shows officials wanted to specifically target parents in migrant families for increased prosecutions.

WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials weighed speeding up the deportation of migrant children by denying them their legal right to asylum hearings after separating them from their parents, according to comments on a late 2017 draft of what became the administration's family separation policy obtained by NBC News.
The authors noted that the "increase in prosecutions would be reported by the media and it would have a substantial deterrent effect."
At the time, the number of undocumented immigrants seeking to cross the southern border was near historic monthly lows: 40,519 in December 2017, compared to 58,379 the same month the year prior.
"It appears that they wanted to have it both ways — to separate children from their parents but deny them the full protections generally awarded to unaccompanied children," said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union who led the class action suit on behalf of migrant parents who had been separated from their children.
Other policies discussed in the draft, however, did materialize. For example, HHS adopted a policy that would require anyone in a household who agreed to sponsor an unaccompanied migrant child to undergo an extensive background check. Publicly, DHS and HHS said that this was to ensure the safety of children. But the draft shows administrators knew the potential for creating a backlog of children in migrant detention, which later became reality and led to the creation of the Tornillo tent city last year.
"There are litigation risks associated with this proposal, as it would implicate refugee treaties and international law," the draft said. In public testimony, Nielsen has told Congress that the policy is legal.
Releasing immigrants on bond while they wait months or years to see an asylum judge is an issue that has plagued both the Obama and Trump administrations. However, under the 1997 Flores court agreement, ICE is prohibited from holding children in detention for longer than 20 days. In September 2018, the administration announced that it was seeking to overturn the Flores agreement, but the policy has yet to go into effect. ICE is also limited in space to hold all immigrants awaiting asylum hearings.

Emails Show US Border Officials Didn’t Receive “Zero Tolerance” Guidance Until After The Policy Was Enacted

Buzzfeed News wrote:

US border officials didn’t receive guidance from the Trump administration on how to implement its “zero tolerance” policy that led to separations of migrant families until after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed a memo enacting it, according to emails obtained by Democracy Forward through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The guidance was delivered May 4, 2018, nearly a month after then-attorney general Jeff Sessions announced that Justice Department prosecutors would charge all individuals who crossed the southern border without authorization under a zero tolerance policy.

Even then, the memo appeared to leave some room for confusion among officials, who said they would apply “common sense” until additional clarification and guidance was issued, according to the emails received by Democracy Forward and shared with BuzzFeed News.

To both former Department of Homeland Security officials and advocates, the timing of the guidance shows that US Customs and Border Protection authorities were unprepared for what soon became one of the most controversial policies enacted under the Trump administration — an intent to prosecute every individual who crossed the southern border without authorization — and eventually led to the separation of thousands of families.