Trump administration admits to stealing as many as 1,250 migrant kids that we didn't know about

Trump administration admits to stealing as many as 1,250 migrant kids that we didn't know about
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan briefs President Donald Trump about illegal immigration and illicit drug smuggling during an interagency meeting at CBP’s National Targeting Center in Sterling, Virginia, Feb. 2. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) photo by Jetta Disco

U.S. border officials likely stole an additional 1,250 children from their families before the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy was officially implemented, Health and Human Services official Jonathan White said in court on Friday. “Steven Herzog—who heads the steering committee of law firms and nonprofits working to reunite separated families—confirmed most of the parents have been deported to Guatemala and Honduras,” Courthouse News Service reports.


Officials are expected to confirm what they say is a final number this week, just meeting a six-month deadline set by a federal judge earlier this year for the administration to account for additional children who may have been taken from their families. In January, a report from the Department of Health and Human Services watchdog said potentially thousands of kids were separated before the policy’s official implementation in spring 2018.

While Judge Dana Sabraw set a deadline for Oct. 25, the administration had brazenly asked for as long as two years to identify these kids. Federal immigration officials, HuffPost reported in April, “didn’t start tracing separated families as a searchable data set before April of last year, according to the filing, so records are spotty.” That intentional negligence will have consequences, with Sabraw saying on Friday, “It’s going to be more challenging to track them down” compared to families separated under the policy.

“The American Civil Liberties Union also alerted the court this summer about hundreds more families that have been separated despite Sabraw’s order ceasing the practice,” Courthouse News Service noted. The group said that as many as 1,000 additional families have been ripped apart since that order, for the most minor of offenses—including traffic violations—and reasons as petty as a dirty diaper. The ACLU has asked Sabraw to again block the administration, and to impose a rigid policy stating the only circumstances under which a child should be removed from an adult.

Last month, moms and kids who were ripped apart under the policy filed a lawsuit against the administration, seeking damages for the lifelong “extraordinary trauma” inflicted on both them and their children, who were as young as 5 years old when they were stolen. “Under the family separation policy,” said attorney Erik Walsh, “immigration officers took children from their parents, flew children to shelters across the country, and failed for weeks to tell the parents where their children were or how they were doing.”

But remember that in July 2018, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who is still in his job, claimed before the Senate Finance Committee, “There is no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located … I could at the stroke of keystrokes … within seconds could find any child within our care for any parent.” Except for when it comes down to actually reuniting these families. Then it’ll take perhaps, oh, six months to reunite them, or maybe two years, who knows? In some cases, the separation has been permanent.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.