The stain that the Trump administration’s disastrous family separation policy left behind is even bigger than you might have assumed. NBC News reports that in October 2019, the Trump administration blocked the Justice Department from settling a federal lawsuit that would pay for mental health services of migrant families who were forcibly separated by federal authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to multiple sources, this decision was made after consulting with senior Trump adviser and white supremacy enthusiast, Stephen Miller.
From NBC News:
“DOJ strongly, and unanimously, supported the settlement, but not all agencies involved were on the same page,” an administration official said. “Ultimately, the settlement was declined at the direction of the White House counsel’s office.”
Another administration official said: “Ultimately, it was Stephen who prevailed. He squashed it.”
The White House’s refusal to accept the deal ended up costing taxpayers $6 million.
A former Justice Department official said that immigration issues routinely got kicked to the White House and that there it was expected that Miller would get involved.
A former Justice Department official told NBC News that Miller, the architect of the Trump administration’s most regressive immigration policies, was regularly involved in immigration matters such as this. A White House official denied Miller had a hand in the suit, adding that “any suggestion that he was is false.” But this abject cruelty is certainly Miller’s style.
Well over four thousand migrant children were ripped away from their guardians, and approximately 666 children have not yet been reunited with their families. The trauma this has inflicted is well documented, and its lasting toll on those young psyches is horrific.
From NBC News:
Cheryl Aguilar, founder and lead therapist of the Hope Center for Wellness in Washington, D.C., one of Seneca’s partners in implementing mental health services, said the group is treating four children separated from their parents as part of the case.
That includes an 8-year-old girl who is terrified that her mother will leave at any moment and a boy approaching his teens who wets his bed because of the trauma suffered from separation, she said.
“There were delays in getting kids services, and that delays the healing,” she said.
There wouldn’t have been nearly as many delays in tackling the abandonment issues and post-traumatic stress if everything went according to plan. The Department of Justice is reported to have initially supported the $8 million settlement for screening and counseling the migrant children and their families. The settlement would have even avoided the discovery process which— according to Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer representing the migrant families—would have required potentially damning interviews by traumatized children about the details of the separation policy.
But thanks to Miller’s influence, the Trump administration—whether in arrogance or principle—decided to go to reject the settlement and go to trial instead. The judge ultimately ruled that the government must pay for mental health services for the migrant families they destroyed. (The administration appealed the ruling, unsuccessfully).
This victory has its limitations. Even as Miller’s reign on immigration policy comes to an end, there are still migrant children without guardians, and migrant children who will have permanent psychological damage because of Miller’s obsession with regarding immigrants as invaders who will hasten white genocide.
Reporters, lawyers, concerned citizens can trot out all the heartbreaking statistics and anecdotes that they want. Watch Miller attempt to give a single shit.