Trump Administration Utterly Fails at Reunification of Migrant Families

A federal judge in San Diego gave the Trump administration until last Tuesday to reunite the families of migrant children under 5 years of age that had been separated as a result of their zero tolerance policy. The headline of a DHS press release yesterday reads: “Trump Administration Completes Reunification for Eligible Children Under Age 5.”

That word “eligible” is carrying a lot of weight. You have to go down six paragraphs to get to this:

There are 103 children under age 5 covered by the court case. Of the 103 children:

* 57 children have been reunified as of 7 a.m. EST on July 12.

* 46 children were acknowledged by the court to be ineligible for reunification or determined by HHS, DHS, and DOJ to be ineligible under court-approved criteria.

In other words, 45 percent of these children have not been reunited with their parents. DHS goes on to explain that “22 children have been found ineligible due to safety concerns posed by the adults in question.” This is where the constant barrage of lies from this administration comes into play. The claim is that the vast majority of those 22 children have not be reunited because the adult in question has a criminal history or because they were determined to not be the parent. They want us to believe that the same people who ripped these 22 children away from their families are now the ones we should trust to determine what is best for them. Call me highly skeptical on that one.

As to the remaining 24 children, the parent(s) of 12 of them have already been deported and can’t be located. That children were taken from their parents, who were then deported without any thought given to the needs of their children, is unconscionable. The remainder are in federal or state custody “for other offenses.”

This is simply the tip of the iceberg for the most vulnerable of these children. There are still over 2,000 in custody that we haven’t even heard about.

Frankly, I resent the fact that this press release included statements like this: “Throughout the reunification process our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment.” If anyone involved had the slightest concern about the “well-being of the children” this nightmare wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

The administration also used this notice to spread their threats.

Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of these families are refugees who are fleeing violence in their home countries. Telling them to “wait their turn” could be a death sentence.

What makes all of this worse is that the entire ordeal of separating these families has been based on nothing but lies about immigrants and refugees.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.