LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • JUNE 29, 2018 • 09
Mark Takano on the bus touring several camp facilities. Photo courtesy Takano’s Office
Chief of Staff John Kelly said on May 11: “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.” During a May 15 Senate committee hearing, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said that families seeking asylum who present themselves at ports of entry stay together. However, DHS later clarified that
families may be separated if they can’t prove a custodial relationship or if DHS thinks a child may be at risk, being used by a trafficker to gain entry. In practice, asylum seekers who presented themselves at a point of entry were blocked, forced to find another way into the country, thus making their crossing illegal, with the children removed. On May 29, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a 21 percent surge in one month in unaccompanied children in government
detention centers. “Although the government has not disclosed how many children have been separated from their parents as a result of the new measures, [HHS] said Tuesday that it had 10,773 migrant children in its custody, up from 8,886 on April 29,” the Washington Post reported. More than 100 children under the age of 4 were taken from their mothers, including breast-feeding infants, The New York Times reported, using data provided by HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The policy was the last straw for former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt who renounce his membership in the Republican Party, now “fully the party of Trump.” “This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of humanity in our history. It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families,” he said the thread. “Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.” Schmidt also came close to calling Trump a fascist. “Conservatism has become synonymous with obedience to the leader – a leader who says ‘I am the law. I am above the law. I will define what truth is.’ Truth is what the leader says it is, not what we would have recognized months ago as objective truth,” Schmidt told MSNBC. “The last time this happened, it unleashed a tragedy the likes of which the world has never seen. And I think there is a real lack of imagination in this country about how fragile these institutions are and how dangerous a president as unprepared, as authoritarian, as ignorant as he is—the damage he would be able to cause.” The government tried to control the detention narrative. But reporting by Los Angeles native Jacob Soboroff for MSNBC after touring a facility in McAllen, Texas burst through. He described essentially a prison with “babies sitting by themselves in a cage with other babies.” He said reporters on the tour were asked to smile at the kids because they “feel like animals locked up in cages.” ProPublica released smuggled audio of young children crying for their parents. Reports of “tender-age shelters” and the sight of young people escorted in the dark of night to facilities around the country caused outrage. Trump said he didn’t like the images and on June 20 signed an executive order that kept in place his “zero-tolerance” policy, but allows families to stay together while the parents are being prosecuted. However, many questions remain: what happens if the parents’ cases are not adjudicated within 20 days, when a federal court settlement requires that children be released from detention? And while a San Diego judge ordered family reunification within 30 days of separation, the government has apparently Continues on page 18
Losangelesblade.com, Volume 2, Issue 17, June 29, 2018