Unprecedented Immigration Cruelty: Trump Administration Has 13,000 Separated Children Detained


Trump–cruel and unusual policy. Photo: Gage Skidmore–Flickr.

A new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General’s review of the family separation crisis includes an array of damning details that underscore the cruelty, dehumanization, and indifference exhibited by our government. Yet the Trump administration’s shameful treatment of immigrant and asylum-seeking children is not a story just looking back at a dark chapter in our recent past – it’s front and center and continuing right now.

Just this weekend, the New York Times reported that hundreds of children in government custody have been moved secretly in the middle of the night to a tent city in Tornillo, Texas. The story highlights that the Trump Administration now has 13,000 detained children in custody, up “fivefold” since last year, and that the average length of time detained children spend in custody has jumped from 34 days to 59 days over the past year.

The main reason: the government is intimidating and arresting sponsors — many of them undocumented — who previously came forward to sponsor their loved ones and are now too scared to do so.

In an editorial titled, “Hundreds of children are still separated from their parents. When will this end?” the Washington Post captures the larger cruelty embodied in both the tent city filled with unaccompanied minors as well as the unresolved family separation crisis that ripped children from parents’ arms, writing:

“More than three months after President Trump signed an order ending family separations, hundreds of children separated from their parents by U.S. officials remain apart … each of those remaining children represents an indictment of the administration’s zero-compassion policy.

… That cavalier cruelty is typical of an administration that also has shipped hundreds of children, mainly teenagers, to a remote tent encampment in West Texas, where they are warehoused for weeks at a time, awaiting placement with sponsors, without schools or other age-appropriate support … Children, parents, sponsors — all are candidates for cruelty at the hands of an administration carrying out a crusade against immigrants, a policy that diminishes the nation.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports on the new DHS OIG report, shining a light on the following disturbing details:

“The DHS Office of Inspector General’s review found at least 860 migrant children were left in Border Patrol holding cells longer than the 72-hour limit mandated by U.S. courts, with one minor confined for 12 days and another for 25. Many of those children were put in chain-link holding pens in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas.

… Based on observations conducted by DHS inspectors at multiple facilities along the border in late June, agents separated children too young to talk from their parents in a way that courted disaster.

… On June 23, three days after the executive order halting the separations, DHS announced it had developed a “central database” with HHS containing location information for separated parents and minors that both departments could access to reunite families. The inspector general found no evidence of such a database, the report said.”

The following is a statement from Pili Tobar, Managing Director of America’s Voice:

“The way the Trump administration continues to treat vulnerable children is a shameful mix of purposeful cruelty and willful indifference. They are undermining the basic dignity and humanity of children while inflicting long lasting trauma, and they clearly don’t care. We’re better than this as a country. And the only way we are going to improve the nation starts at the ballot box this November. We must vote and hold the Administration and Republicans in Congress accountable for the suffering and damage they are causing to these kids.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice


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