With 12,800 Migrant Children Detained, Trump Plans Indefinite Internment

With reports of abuse mounting in HHS shelters, hundreds of children still separated from their parents, and the Trump administration ignoring court rulings, difficult times lay ahead.

This undated file photo provided by HHS' Administration for Children and Families shows the shelter used to house unaccompanied foreign children in Tornillo, Texas. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, that the facility will be expanded to 3,800 beds from its initial capacity of 360 beds. (HHS' Administration for Children and Families via AP, File)

This undated file photo provided by HHS’ Administration for Children and Families shows the shelter used to house unaccompanied foreign children in Tornillo, Texas. A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, that the facility will be expanded to 3,800 beds from its initial capacity of 360 beds. (HHS’ Administration for Children and Families via AP, File)

The Lede: The New York Times reported that there are 12,800 unaccompanied migrant children in the Trump administration’s custody. This is up from the 2,400 in May of 2017. The highest levels ever. This high level of migrant children in custody is due to the fact the Trump administration is reducing the number of children that they are releasing to adoptive families. Nearly 500 of those children are in custody as a result of President Trump’s separation of undocumented immigrant families who crossed the southern border.

This news comes after last week’s report from The Washington Post that indicated Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) look set to circumvent the Flores settlement. This settlement ruled that children must not be detained for more than 20 days. The Trump administration appears to be looking to move forward with their plans to indefinitely detain tens of thousands of migrants on American soil. Of the children detained, most are in federally contracted shelters, but some are in temporary “tent cities.”

The Context: ProPublica released a piece of incredible journalism that analyzed 70 of the 100 immigrant youth shelters that are federally contracted and run by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The shelters hold these 12,800 unaccompanied minors, with last year marking the number of kids younger than 13 at 17% of that total. ProPublica obtained more than 1,000 pages of police reports and call logs, which detail hundreds of reports of sexual abuse, fights, and missing children dating back to 2014.

Immigration advocates have noted that the Trump administration’s immigration policies have added increased pressure on these already understaffed shelters, likely making the environment even worse. President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy exacerbated this humanitarian crisis. It was engineered by President Trump and White House Adviser Stephen Miller, implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and executed by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. It resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border. President Trump was forced by public pressure to end this policy, and court rulings forced him to reunite these families, but he has yet to comply with those rulings.

The deadline to reunite the almost 3,000 immigrant children that remained separated from their parents was on July 26th. Since the Trump administration had no plan for reunification once they separated the children, they failed to meet that deadline. There are still nearly 500 children separated from their families, due to families they’ve deemed “ineligible” for reunification, either because they had suspicions about the parents or they could not locate them. There have also been more than 400 parents of the separated children deported. These are people who are fleeing violence in their home countries. Many of which were seeking asylum in the United States legally, only to be detained and have their children taken from them.

The Analysis: President Trump has repeatedly called for the end of immigrants’ due process rights at the border, all while his “denaturalization task force” takes aim at immigrants already residing in the U.S. And now, the Trump administration is reportedly discharging immigrants who are fighting for our country in the U.S. military.

There are countless questions to be answered, hundreds of families to be reunited, thousands of children to be placed with adoptive families, and multiple reports of abuse that must be addressed. There must be hearings on the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And the media needs to shine a light on this once again, because the public needs to know what is going on in these facilities. The psychological damage these children must be facing is unspeakable.

We will effectively have large migrant internment camps around the U.S. if this administration is not properly pressured to end the pursuit of this depraved policy. The Washington Post has created an interactive map in an effort to crowdsource the current location of some of the children who are currently separated. Journalists should pay some of these locations a visit.

In other news…

Rundown // DHS / Donald Trump / Immigration