How can the United States Government Lose 1475 Children?

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How can a government lose track of 1475 immigrant children in its care?

I know it sounds like a Boko Haram horror story from Africa, but this is happening in the country that put a man on the moon, that invented the internet and has more databases than God has sheep. The United States of America has AIFS and CODIS; FBI, CIA, ICE and more than a million people working in law enforcement. And it has lost track of almost 1500 unaccompanied migrant children.

In spite of this, the separation of families goes on. Day after day. And parents are not told where their children are or how long it will be till they see them again. This is the Trump administration’s idea of MAGA.

The xenophobia and racism spewing from Team Trump is repulsive and terrifying. I also believe that it is criminally reckless for the Trump administration to prosecute routine immigration violations with such vigor, and to separate parents from their children, especially as the government has “lost” almost 1500 kids already.

According to reports in the New York Times on 26 April, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported to a Senate subcommittee that 1,475 unaccompanied migrant children were unaccounted for. These statements were made by Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary of HHS at a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee oversight hearing.

On Monday 28 May, Wagner stated that that the Unaccompanied Alien Children program is being abused at the expense of American taxpayers.

“It was never intended to be a foster care system with more than 10,000 children in custody at an immediate cost to the federal taxpayer of over one billion dollars per year.”

Opening the Door to Human Trafficking

Missing children. Unaccounted for underage migrants. The process is un-transparent and murky.

So even though Wagner explains that many of the children have been placed with undocumented families  who are laying low, somebody must know where these missing children are and what is happening to the ones who are being separated from their parents today? Doesn’t this open the door to human trafficking, slavery and other human rights abuses (which happened in 2016)?

Housing Immigrant Children at Military Bases

Is shipping undocumented minors off to military bases really keeping America safe? Most of the people arrested on the border are not criminals; they are desperate families seeking refuge in the USA from countries where safe living is not an option.

We know that most of the people fleeing Central America are trying to get away from corruption, poverty, and murder.

Not Forgetting President Obama’s Immigration Problems in 2014

To be fair on the Trump administration, this issue with immigrant children is not only happening now. It has been an ongoing problem for decades that no administration has seemed to be able to resolve. Most recently in 2014, the Obama administration encountered a surge of unaccompanied minors and women crossing the border from Central America.

The Obama administration’s response was in no way ideal on humanitarian grounds, but they did provide legal assistance and the children were hosted in temporary shelters – to keep the kids safe, not to punish the parents.

Even if all Americans don’t care about human rights or the safety of the people of Central America, surely they care about their taxes? The American taxpayers are footing the bill for all these prosecutions and detentions.

Anti-Immigration. America First

I believe these anti- immigration measures are a step by step protectionist process by the Trump Administration to shut down Americas borders. We remember Donald Trump’s first words after coming down the golden escalator at Trump Tower to announce he would run for President. He directed his xenophobia at Mexico, which he accused of ‘bringing their worst people’ to America, including criminals and ‘rapists’. He also announced that he was going to build “a great wall” along the southern US border.

While the President is kicking up dust in Washington and at Rallies around the country about the Russia probe, his loyal lieutenant Jeff Sessions is transforming America’s immigration system. This is all part of Trump’s nationalistic America First policy.

In November 2017, the Trump administration ended the Central American Minors Program which allowed eligible minors from the Northern Triangle to apply for the refugee resettlement or parole in the United States.

Another brick in this wall occurred in December 2017 when the administration of President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a United Nations pact to improve the handling of migrant and refugee situations, deeming it “inconsistent” with its policies. One year earlier, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs.

Back to the 1500 Missing Kids  #WhereAreTheChildren

Ok, so back to these missing children. According to these reports, Between October to December 2017 the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) attempted to reach 7,635 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and their sponsors.

From these calls, ORR learned:

  • 6,075 UAC remained with their sponsors
  • Twenty-eight UAC had run away
  • five had been removed from the United States, and
  • 52 had relocated to live with a non-sponsor.

ORR was unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 unaccompanied undocumented children.

The Government denies having any responsibility for the missing children. According Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), when children are apprehended who cross the border into the United States on their own; their custody is transferred from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement, to HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Sponsors of Immigrant Children

Immigrant Children are then released to a sponsor in the U.S. who is selected and approved by ORR. These sponsors undergo background checks. Although the majority are parents or immediate family members, the remainder are typically more distant relatives or non-relatives with whom the children had some previous relationship

When a child is placed with a sponsor, he or she ceases to be in the custody of the U.S. government and all HHS-provided subsistence ends at that point when the child becomes the responsibility of his or her parent, guardian or sponsor.

Zero Tolerance for Improper Border Crossing

In an April 6 memorandum to federal prosecutors, US Justice Department’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for first-time illegal border crossers. On May 7, he said the Department of Homeland Security was referring 100 percent of illegal crossers for criminal prosecution in federal court.

The new memo instructs all U.S. attorneys in the relevant border districts to prosecute every violator of the federal law, which bars improper entry by an “alien individual”, as opposed to selectively prosecuting only criminal or repeat offender cases

Sessions’ directive tells federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, which has historically been treated as a misdemeanor offense for those with few or no previous encounters with border authorities. Smugglers and repeat offenders are usually charged with more serious crimes.

Unlike criminal cases, the government does not have to pay for a lawyer for someone in immigration court. Most people held in immigration detention go through the system alone.

“If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,” Jeff Sessions said in a speech defending the policy. “It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”

US Justice Department Ends Legal Assistance Program

As of April 30, the Justice Department temporarily halted a program that provided legal assistance to detained immigrants facing deportation in 16 states across the country.

The program provides a legal “lifeline for many immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and green-card holders — some who are fighting for their lives — who would otherwise not know the rights they have or the odds they face,” the Vera Institute for Justice said in a statement. “Every day this program is not in operation puts family unity at risks, harms our communities, and infringes on the right of all people to make informed decisions about their legal claims.”

700 Kids Taken from Parents since October 2017

The outcry over the fact that the federal government had lost track of hundreds of vulnerable children was compounded by outrage over news that immigration authorities were making good on new Trump administration directives to prosecute parents caught making unauthorized border crossings with their children, and in so doing separate the kids from their parents. The New York Times noted in April 2018 that 700 children, over 100 of them younger than four years old, had been taken from their parents at the border since October 2017.

The new details come as Congress is examining safeguards put in place by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security to make sure children who show up alone at the border are turned over to relatives, and not human traffickers.

In conclusion the big lie, as with many US Challenges. President Donald Trump Blames the Democrats. As he said earlier this month “”we have to break up families …the Democrats gave us that law. It’s a horrible thing, we have to break up families.”

The truth is that there is no law requiring the government to separate kids of undocumented migrants or asylum seekers from their parents — least of all one passed by Democrats.


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