Many Migrant Families Weren’t Just Separated

A federal judge gave the Trump administration until this Thursday to reunite the remaining families that had been separated as a result of the zero tolerance policy. In a progress report submitted to the judge yesterday, here’s what we learned:

The Trump administration said in a court filing Monday that 463 parents of migrant children are no longer present in the United States, indicating that the number of mothers and fathers potentially deported without their children during the “zero tolerance” border crackdown could be far larger than previously acknowledged.

It’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around that level of inhumanity. The administration not only separated children from their parents, in about a fifth of the cases, they deported the parents back to their home country while their children remained in custody. It is very likely that many of these families will never be reunited and, as Adam Sewer pointed out:

As I’ve written before, this is what happens when cruelty is paired with incompetence. At their core, the zero tolerance and family separation policies were designed to be cruel in an attempt to scare asylum seekers away from attempting to find refuge in this country. Those policies were, at minimum, implemented with nothing short of utter incompetence.

The family separations, part of an aggressive effort by the Trump administration to deter illegal immigration, have produced a chaotic scramble as officials now face political and judicial pressure to reunite families.

Records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, according to two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.

In a rush to adjudicate as many of these cases as possible, some parents were quickly deported without their children.

The one positive in this hall of horrors is that a federal judge in San Diego, U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, is attempting to right as much of this wrong as possible. But where is Congress? The so-called “party of family values” doesn’t seem interested in its principles when the families involved are brown immigrants and refugees. There have been no hearings scheduled or any other attempt to hold this administration accountable. In other words, Republicans are complicit in the fact that some of these families will be permanently destroyed.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.