The Department of Homeland Security would like you to know that the government has not lost track of the migrant children it has separated from their parents. In a statement on Saturday night, after days of nationwide protests, DHS said that they “have a process” to “ensure that those adults who are subject to removal are reunited with their children for the purposes of removal,” read: make sure that children are not left God-knows-where in a detention center in the U.S. while their parents are deported. Which is happening.
In a “Fact Sheet,” the Department states that 522 “unaccompanied alien children” who were separated from adults under the zero-tolerance policy have been “reunited” by Customs and Border Patrol and 16 more are expected to be reunited within the day. ICE now has a “processing center” just for family reunification. The document makes it sound as simple as ICE, which holds parents, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which holds children, making some phone calls. “Each entity plays a role in reunification,” it says. “This process is well coordinated.”
That’s an eerily opaque version of the system described to Jezebel by attorney Kelly Albinak Kribs, who said that a vast web of individuals wields power over migrant children (such as immigration judges, ORR officials, individual attorneys for children, consulates, and sometimes ICE officers) who might be in ORR centers or foster care, while parents have limited access to attorneys, phones, internet, and could be moved from state to state.
The release claims that the Department of Health and Human Services currently has 2,053 minors in “HHS funded facilities” and is working to reunite them with families; they also say that of those children only 17% came into the country with a parent or guardian. Since the zero-tolerance policy began in May, immigration officials have taken 2,300 children from their families.
While the administration denies that it separates very young children except in select circumstances, the Associated Press reported earlier this week that the administration has set up at least three “tender-age” centers for separated babies and young children. Placing those children is harder, as immigrant advocate Anne Chandler has explained to Texas Monthly. “In the shelters, they can’t even find the parents because the kids are just crying inconsolably,” she said. “They often don’t know the full legal name of their parents or their date of birth.”
Parents have told the New York Times that they’re getting little or no response from the toll-free number which the Office of Refugee Resettlement has put out; one mother said that when she finally did get through to her daughter over the phone, she was not allowed to learn the name of the facility or even the state it’s in and was told to wait a month or maybe more to be reunited.
And I put this down here because I didn’t want to let this miserable egomaniac waylay the news: Donald Trump, whose primary thing is writing DONALD TRUMP on big documents and then holding them up for a photo with Donald Trump, is actually autographing portraits of people murdered by undocumented immigrants. On Friday, Trump held a news conference in which he had families of people killed by undocumented immigrants hold up blown-up photos of their murdered loved ones signed DONALD TRUMP. This is real:
He tweeted on Sunday that he would like all people, presumably including asylum-seekers, to be “immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases [sic]” sent back to their home countries.