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The U.S. Government Is Tracking Migrant Girls’ Periods And The Reason Why Is Even More Disturbing

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The US can’t keep track of unaccompanied minors — in fact, there are at least 1,488 youth who are missing after being under federal government custody — but apparently they can, and are, monitoring the menstruation of migrant girls.

Harper’s Bizarre reports that the Trump administration has been tracking the period, pregnancies and reason for gestation of teen girls in their custody. According to the magazine, it’s likely that the data is being collected to prevent young pregnant migrants from receiving abortions, even if they need or want this lawful reproductive healthcare.

Anti-choice crusader Scott Lloyd, who is writing a book against the procedure, is behind the menstruation and pregnancy reports. When Lloyd headed the Office of Refugee Resettlement, he attempted to use a migrant girl as a way to test an “abortion reversal” method and often forced youth to carry their pregnancies to term. In one instance, he referred to a pregnant girl seeking abortion care who had considered suicide as “obnoxious” and said “the unborn child is in our care so the medical team should continue with standard prenatal care.'”

For migrant girls who are pressured to carry their pregnancies to term, it is also possible that the state will take their newborns away from them. Previously, many migrant children have been taken to Bethany Christian Services, a Betsy DeVos-supported adoption agency that doesn’t place children with LGBTQ couples. Even more, even if parents are told the child would be in temporary foster care, there’s still a possibility that they won’t ever be reunited.

Earlier this year, Jonathan White, the head of the Health and Human Services Department, said removing children from ‘sponsor’ homes to rejoin their parents “would present grave child welfare concerns,” making the argument that the government should focus on reuniting children currently in its custody and not those who have already been released to sponsor homes.

In short: the government is tracking the bodies of young migrant girls of color, taking away their autonomy and forcing them to carry out terms to then place the child with other, deemed more deserving, American families.

This isn’t a scene out of a Lifetime movie about a corrupt foriegn government. This is life in the US under a Trump presidency.

Read: The ‘Death Sentence’ Abortion Bill Would Make Abortion Punishable By Up To 99 Years In Prison

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Artwork Created By Detained Teenagers Are On Display In El Paso In An Exhibit Called ‘Uncaged Art’

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Artwork Created By Detained Teenagers Are On Display In El Paso In An Exhibit Called ‘Uncaged Art’

UTEP

Between June 2018 and January 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services detained more than 6,000 teenagers from Central and South America in a tent city 40 miles south of El Paso. It was called the Tornillo Children’s Detention camp and was the largest detention center for children in the United States. While detained there, the teenagers, aged 13-17, were asked to participate in a social studies project to create art that reminded them of their home. Their art was on display around the tent city until a story by The New York Times shined a light on the teens’ paltry living conditions, and the government shut the facility down in January 2019.

As Tornillo Children’s Detention Camp was being shut down, workers trashed nearly all of the 400 pieces of art. However, one priest and several community organizations came together and were able to save 29 of the pieces.

Father Rafael Garcia, a Jesuit Priest, was one of the few outside visitors allowed into the camp.

Credit: Sacred Heart Church, El Paso, TX / Facebook

“It is hard to describe the mood there; some kids were very glum and sad, others had no expression,” Father Garcia told NBC News. “Then there were others interacting like normal kids.” The artwork was on display until January 2019, when the U.S. government decided to close the camp. As officers were tossing the artwork, Garcia asked for permission to redistribute the art to others who may want it.

“If I hadn’t been there, and received permission to keep some of the pieces, it probably would have all been thrown in the dumpster,” Garcia said.

With the artwork in hand, Garcia called Yolanda Chávez Leyva, Ph.D., University of El Paso Texas Professor and co-founder of El Paso’s Museo Urbano.

Credit: Borderzine Reporting across fronteras / YouTube

Leyva would go to the Tornillo Children’s Detention Center on her days off to visit with the kids. Garcia knew that she co-founded El Paso’s community museum known for preserving borderland history. Garcia wanted the museum and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to protect the artwork. They did one better and put all the art on display at UTEP’s Centennial Museum. 

Father Garcia sees the final outcome–an exhibit featuring their work–as “a ray of light from a grim experience.”

Credit: UTEP

The Museum website describes the exhibit as reflective of “the resiliency, talent, and creativity of young men and women who trekked 2,000 miles from their homes in Central America to reach the United States.” The exhibit, titled ‘Uncaged Art,’ “provides us with a window into the personal world of migrant children whose visions and voices have often been left out of mainstream media accounts,” reads the website.

Still, the art is on display behind a chain-link fence, to remind visitors of the conditions the young artists were in at the time.

Credit: Borderzine Reporting across fronteras / YouTube

The social studies teachers allowed the students four days to create the art and allowed them to create individually or in groups. There were no other instructions other than to think of their home. Those instructions resulted in an array of mixed media art including dresses, sculptures and hundreds of drawings and sketches. Then, “camp officials” judged the art and selected their perceived best works to display around the camp.

Human rights attorney, Camilo Pérez-Bustillo thinks that the camp released the artwork as a PR stunt to look good.

Credit: UTEP

Pérez-Bustillo had interviewed about 30 children from the camp and believes the artwork was essentially curated by the facility. “I think they released it to look good,” Pérez-Bustillo told The Texas Observer. “They had so much negative publicity at the end from the national media, especially after news reports that their employees did not have to submit to FBI checks, they decided to shut it down and cut their losses.”  

For now, we don’t know the faces behind the artwork.

Credit: UTEP

In June 2018, Beto O’Rourke led hundreds of protesters to the tent city demanding humane conditions for the ever-expanding tent city. Temperatures were over 100 degrees while the children were living in tents. A DHS spokesperson told the public that the tents were air-conditioned. Some of the children told an attorney that the worst part of the facility was never knowing when they’d get out. Some kids would keep track of the days that passed by scribbling numbers on their forearms.

Still, the government’s response to the problem was to loosen the strict requirements for sponsorships. All of the children are now sponsored by people around the country.

Wherever they are, we hope that they see their artwork is cherished by our community.

Credit: “tornillo art” Digital Image. Texas Observer. 23 August 2019.

We know that the symbol of the quetzal bird created in this artwork is a symbol of freedom for Guatemala. In the words of one of the artists, as told by The Texas Observer, “The quetzal cannot be caged or it will die of sadness.”

READ: Texas Detention Officer Charged With Sexual Assault Of An Undocumented Mother’s Child

The Administration Ignores 22-Year-Old Precedent Of Flores Agreement, Plans To Detain Migrant Families Indefinitely

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The Administration Ignores 22-Year-Old Precedent Of Flores Agreement, Plans To Detain Migrant Families Indefinitely

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Today, we woke up to another announcement from the Trump administration regarding its immigration policies. Yet again, the administration has proven that cruelty is the point in their policy.

With today’s announcement, the administration announced a new rule that would add to the aggressive effort already underway to make life miserable for migrants and asylum seekers coming to the US.

According to today’s announcement, the administration will implement a new rule allowing for indefinite detainment of migrant families.

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a proposal to detain undocumented families together indefinitely, replacing the agreement that set a 20-day limit for holding children, with President Donald Trump saying it would discourage migrants from coming to the US.

Today’s announcement is just the latest in a pattern of cruel policies directed as people attempting to make a new life in the US.

In recent months, the administration has proposed rules that could make it more difficult for immigrants to get green cards, worked to end temporary protected status for migrants from certain countries and limit avenues to declare asylum.

For Trump’s part, he says he’s only thinking of the children.

Trump said Wednesday that he’s concerned about the number of undocumented children attempting to travel into the United States, arguing the new rule would keep families together.

“I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly,” Trump said.

He also reasserted his false claim that President Barack Obama was the person responsible for family separations, although it was the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy which led to thousands of children being separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally.

“I’m the one that kept the families together. With what we’re doing now, we’ll do even more of that, but it will make it almost impossible for people to come into our country illegally,” Trump said at the White House.

The new rule would also destroy the Flores Agreement, which the government has been following since a Supreme Court decision in 1997.

McAleenan said the new rule takes aim at a 2015 “reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement” in which a California district court ruled accompanied minors are subject to the same detention limits as unaccompanied minors.

The 2015 change, McAleenan said, “has generally forced the government to release families into the country after just 20 days, incentivizing illegal entry, adding to the growing backlog in immigration proceedings, and often delaying immigration proceedings for many years.”

The Trump administration has frequently blamed Flores for the spike in family border crossings over the last few years, claiming the promise of eventual release creates an incentive to enter the country illegally. On Wednesday, it defended the change as closing a “loophole exploited by human smugglers.”

Several politicians have already come out strongly against the new rule, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi is convinced the new rule will be defeated in the courts before it’s ever allowed to go into effect.

While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who is running for President, vows to fight the new rule and noted that it goes against the landmark Flores Agreement.

While others were calling this what it is – concentration camps for migrant families.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought several Trump administration immigration policies, slammed the rule as “yet another cruel attack on children.”

“The government should NOT be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer,” the group tweeted. They added, “This is yet another cruel attack on children, who this administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies.”

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