Nearly 100 days after a federal judge’s reunification deadline, the Trump administration has suddenly “discovered” that it failed to count at least 14 migrant kids in the tally of children kidnapped from the arms of parents at the U.S./Mexico border, Politico reports, “which has left the overlooked children in HHS custody for months.” Officials now say that 2,668 families were separated from Donald Trump’s barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, up from 2,654 families.
“The discrepancy stemmed from the haphazard way that the Trump administration tracked migrant families after it imposed the ‘zero-tolerance’ strategy that led to separations at the border,” Politico continues. “Border Patrol agents also did not track families consistently as they were separated and as children were remanded into HHS custody.”
This was confirmed by a recent report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that federal agencies, including HHS, were “blindsided” by the policy, leaving them unprepared to take in an influx of children, some of them not yet old enough to speak. “Given the lack of a plan or system to keep track of families,” said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, “it’s no surprise the original numbers were inaccurate.”
Currently, 47 children eligible to be reunited with parents continue to remain under U.S. custody, 97 days after Judge Dana Sabraw’s deadline. But the administration also has nearly 200 other separated children in detention, Newsweek reports, “for reasons of parents being ‘unfit’ or presenting ‘a danger to the child,’ or if they’ve indicated they do not want to be reunited with their child.” But some parents have said they were misled into waiving away their rights.
Now with a record number of migrant kids under custody (the vast majority of them who came here by themselves), and children continuing to languish in a prison camp in the Texas desert despite many being eligible to be released to sponsors, the administration is fearmongering about asylum seekers who are still hundreds of miles away and have a right under U.S. law to ask for asylum in order to float implementing family separation 2.0. We need to say enough is enough.