Reuniting thousands of migrant children separated from their parents or guardians at the U.S.-Mexico border will be impossible say Trump administration immigration officials.
“The Trump administration said in a court filing that reuniting thousands of migrant children separated from their parents or guardians at the U.S.-Mexico border may not be “within the realm of the possible.”
The report also says that the Trump administration does not know how many migrant children were separated from their parents at the southern border in the year before the “zero-tolerance” policy launched, and is unlikely to figure it out.
Last month, an internal government report found that during the Trump administration, thousands more kids may have been separated from their parents at the border than was previously known and that a “steep increase” of separations began in the summer of 2017, almost a year before the “zero-tolerance” policy was announced by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the spring of 2018.
The findings by the Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office indicate that tough immigration policies caused to the family separations.
Also, poor communication among federal agencies and inadequate tracking systems made it impossible to find out if the kids ever ended up with their parents or guardians. In short, the government has no idea where thousands of kidnapped children are, and has no clue on how to reunite them with their parents, as the law requires.
“The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown,” according to the Inspector General.
Jallyn Sualog, deputy director of the department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) disclosed the new information in a court filing that was an ordered response in an ACLU lawsuit. The ACLU has been challenging the government’s separation of at least 2,737 children of migrants detained at the border since summer 2017.
Sualog said her office doesn’t have the resources to track down the children, whose numbers could be thousands more than the official estimate.
“Even if performing the analysis Plaintiffs seek were within the realm of the possible, it would substantially imperil ORR’s ability to perform its core functions without significant increases in appropriations from Congress, and a rapid, dramatic expansion of the ORR data team,” she said.
Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the suit being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, called the response “shocking.”
“The Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them,” he said in a statement. “The administration also doesn’t dispute that separations are ongoing in significant numbers.”
Sualog argued that taking minors from their new stateside guardians could be damaging to their psyches, saying:
“ORR would have the authority or resources to forcibly reunify minors who are no longer in ORR custody. Finally reunification of minors already residing with close relatives, parents or family friends could interfere with the child’s routine and currently established relationships.”
This means that the Trump administration has essentially given up on reuniting the children stolen from their parents. It was a crime to take children from their parents, and failure to even try to bring them back together makes Trump’s crime even worse.
The Trump administration must be held accountable for stealing these children, which was a crime against humanity. Now that Democrats are in control of the House, it is hoped that they will hold Donald Trump and his subordinates accountable for these crimes.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.