Over the last six weeks, 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border due to a new policy enacted by the Trump administration. The policy effects families legally arriving at the border seeking asylum. These children are taken into custody and placed in “detention facilities”, which often lack adequate bedding and are overcrowded. The Trump administration already has 10,773 immigrants under the age of 18 in custody due to its “zero tolerance” policy.
How is this all happening and why are children being separated?
Thousands of children have been cruelly separated from their parents at the U.S. border, and family separations continue to sharply increase as part of the Administration's "zero tolerance" policy. Find out what you can do. #FamiliesBelongTogetherhttps://t.co/jMKiGcn24m pic.twitter.com/7luK98pb2q
— CenterActionNetwork (@LGBTActionLink) June 14, 2018
Immigration officials can do this because of a “zero-tolerance” policy publicly announced in May. The policy allows the separation of families by transferring parents into criminal custody and reclassifying the children as “unaccompanied” minors. Parents are then taken to federal criminal prisons while the children are taken to separate housing centers. According to Vox, it’s more expensive to keep parents in detention while children are under the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) care than to keep them together in one detention facility.
The Trump administration is falsely claiming that this is them following a law created by Democrats. There is no such law.
The maximum time a separated child is supposed to be held at these detention centers is 72 hours, but that hasn’t been the case.
"The reason that this shelter is overcapacity is specifically because the Trump administration has decided to separate as many parents from [their] children as they possibly can." @JacobSoboroff reporting on border detention centers. #MegynTODAY pic.twitter.com/gnbvqEoX24
— Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) June 14, 2018
DHHS says most detention centers are at 95 percent capacity because of insufficient space for the children. Also adding to the overcrowding is the process to place a child with a sponsor that takes an average of 45 days. This has led to the need for these “tent cities” where separated children are then placed with relatives or sponsors.
There are currently over 10,773 immigrant children being housed in centers across the United States.
— The Root (@TheRoot) June 13, 2018
Kenneth Wolfe, a DHHS spokesman, told the LA Times that the government currently has contracts with 100 shelters in 17 states with 27 of those shelters in Arizona, California and Texas. Southwest Key, an Austin-based nonprofit, is among the nation’s largest child migrant shelter providers, currently housing 5,129 immigrant children in those three states. According to The Washington Post, these facilities are currently close or full to capacity.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said that he opposes the separation of undocumented immigrant families at U.S. borders.
Reporter: Are you comfortable with the current zero tolerance policy leading to parents and children being separated at the border?
Paul Ryan: "No, I am not…. We believe it should be addressed in immigration legislation." pic.twitter.com/aeO4oX2QFH
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 14, 2018
Ryan on Thursday said he was not comfortable with family separations occurring at the border but didn’t put blame on President Trump. Instead blaming the 1997 Flores settlement, which bars the government from detaining children for long periods, including with their parents. Republicans will present an immigration bill next week that will limit family separation at the border is expected to be part of that legislation, likely in the form of changes to address the Flores rule. Which might mean no longer removing children from their parents but detaining them together until their court hearing.
Rallies took place in support of keeping families together across the US on Thursday.
— Mythili Sampathkumar (@MythiliSk) June 14, 2018
Events, including rallies and vigils, were planned in more than 60 cities and towns in the U.S., according to the organizer, Families Belong Together. Protesters in states including California, Texas, Michigan and New York, drew attention to the Trump administration’s policy with hopes of immediate reform to stop the separation of immigrant families.