the ones that I’ve been working with are the ones that are actually being prosecuted for criminal entry, which is a pretty new thing for our country—to take first-time asylum seekers who are here seeking safe refuge, to turn around and charge them with a criminal offense. Those parents are finding themselves in adult detention centers and in a process known as expedited removal, where many are being deported. And their children, on the other hand, are put in a completely different legal structure. They are categorized as unaccompanied children and thus are being put in place in a federal agency not with the Department of Homeland Security but with Health and Human Services. And Health and Human Services has this complicated structure in place where they’re not viewed as a long-term foster care system—that’s for very limited numbers—but their general mandate is to safeguard these children in temporary shelters and then find family members with whom they can be placed. So they start with parents, and then they go to grandparents, and then they go to other immediate family members, and then they go to acquaintances, people who’ve known the children, and they’re in that system, but they can’t be released to their parents because their parents are behind bars.
.. And we may see more parents that get out of jail because they pass a “credible fear” interview, which is the screening done by the asylum office to see who should be deported quickly, within days or weeks of arrival, and who should stay here and have an opportunity to present their asylum case before an immigration judge of the Department of Justice.
.. So we have a lot of individuals who are in that credible fear process right now, but in Houston, once you have a credible fear interview (which will sometimes take two to three weeks to even set up), those results aren’t coming out for four to six weeks. Meanwhile, these parents are just kind of languishing in these detention centers because of the zero-tolerance policy. There’s no individual adjudication of whether the parents should be put on some form of alternative detention program so that they can be in a position to be reunited with their kid.
.. TM: So, just so I make sure I understand: the parents come in and say, “We’re persecuted” or give some reason for asylum. They come in. And then their child or children are taken away and they’re in lockup for at least six weeks away from the kids and often don’t know where the kids are. Is that what’s happening under zero tolerance?
.. AC: So the idea of zero tolerance under the stated policy is that we don’t care why you’re afraid. We don’t care if it’s religion, political, gangs, anything. For all asylum seekers, you are going to be put in jail, in a detention center, and you’re going to have your children taken away from you. That’s the policy. They’re not 100 percent able to implement that because of a lot of reasons, including just having enough judges on the border. And bed space. There’s a big logistical problem because this is a new policy. So the way they get to that policy of taking the kids away and keeping the adults in detention centers and the kids in a different federal facility is based on the legal rationale that we’re going to convict you, and since we’re going to convict you, you’re going to be in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, and when that happens, we’re taking your kid away. So they’re not able to convict everybody of illegal entry right now just because there aren’t enough judges on the border right now to hear the number of cases that come over, and then they say if you have religious persecution or political persecution or persecution on something that our asylum definition recognizes, you can fight that case behind bars at an immigration detention center. And those cases take two, three, four, five, six months. And what happens to your child isn’t really our concern. That is, you have made the choice to bring your child over illegally. And this is what’s going to happen.
TM: Even if they crossed at a legal entry point?
AC: Very few people come to the bridge. Border Patrol is saying the bridge is closed. When I was last out in McAllen, people were stacked on the bridge, sleeping there for three, four, ten nights. They’ve now cleared those individuals from sleeping on the bridge, but there are hundreds of accounts of asylum seekers, when they go to the bridge, who are told, “I’m sorry, we’re full today. We can’t process your case.” So the families go illegally on a raft—I don’t want to say illegally; they cross without a visa on a raft. Many of them then look for Border Patrol to turn themselves in, because they know they’re going to ask for asylum. And under this government theory—you know, in the past, we’ve had international treaties, right? Statutes which codified the right of asylum seekers to ask for asylum. Right? Article 31 of the Refugee Convention clearly says that it is improper for any state to use criminal laws that could deter asylum seekers as long as that asylum seeker is asking for asylum within a reasonable amount of time. But our administration is kind of ignoring this longstanding international and national jurisprudence of basic beliefs to make this distinction that, if you come to a bridge, we’re not going to prosecute you, but if you come over the river and then find immigration or are caught by immigration, we’re prosecuting you.
TM: So if you cross any other way besides the bridge, we’re prosecuting you. But . . . you can’t cross the bridge.
.. When I was in McAllen, the individuals that day who visited people on the bridge had been there four days. We’re talking infants; there were people breastfeeding on the bridge.
.. And so we saw about six hundred children who were taken away from October to May, then we saw an explosion of the numbers in May. It ramped up. The Office of Refugee Resettlement taking in all these kids says that they are our children, that they are unaccompanied. It’s a fabrication. They’re not unaccompanied children. They are children that came with their parents, and the idea that we’re creating this crisis—it’s a manufactured crisis where we’re going to let children suffer to somehow allow this draconian approach with families seeking shelter and safe refuge.
TM: So what is the process for separation?
.. AC: There is no one process. Judging from the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken to and those my staff has spoken to, there are several different processes. Sometimes they will tell the parent, “We’re taking your child away.” And when the parent asks, “When will we get them back?” they say, “We can’t tell you that.” Sometimes the officers will say, “because you’re going to be prosecuted” or “because you’re not welcome in this country” or “because we’re separating them,” without giving them a clear justification. In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.” Sometimes mothers—I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no. In another case, the father said, “Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So, threats.
.. AC: In the shelters, they can’t even find the parents because the kids are just crying inconsolably. They often don’t know the full legal name of their parents or their date of birth. They’re not in a position to share a trauma story like what caused the migration. These kids and parents had no idea. None of the parents I talked to were expecting to be separated as they faced the process of asking for asylum.
.. The issue is that the Department of Homeland Security is not the one caring for the children. Jurisdiction of that child has moved over to Health and Human Services, and the Health and Human Services staff has to figure out, where is this parent? And that’s not easy. Sometimes the parents are deported. Kids are in New York and Miami, and we’ve got parents being sent to Tacoma, Washington, and California. Talk about a mess.
.. TM: What agency is in charge of physically separating the children and the adults?
AC: The Department of Homeland Security.
.. We saw the separation take place while they were in the care and custody of Customs and Border Protection. That’s where it was happening, at a center called the Ursula, which the immigrants called La Perrera, because it looked like a dog pound, a dog cage. It’s a chain-link fence area, long running areas that remind Central Americans of the way people treat dogs.
.. So now you’re creating two populations. One is your traditional unaccompanied kids who are just coming because their life is at risk right now in El Salvador and Honduras and parts of Guatemala, and they come with incredible trauma, complex stories, and need a lot of resources, and so they navigate this immigration system. And now we have this new population, which is totally different: the young kids who don’t hold their stories and aren’t here to self-navigate the system and are crying out for their parents.
.. So how long do the kids stay in the facility?
AC: It used to be, on average, thirty days. But that’s going up now.
.. DHS goes to those foster homes and arrests people and puts people in jail and deports them.
The American Public Health Association wrote that the trauma from such separation could lead to alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, obesity and suicide. (While the White House says the policy will end for future migrants, it will still affect the thousands of children currently in custody.)
.. But even for those who believe immigration lawbreakers deserve punishment, there’s another argument against separating children from their families: national security. The government’s policy puts the United States at risk, in both the short and long term, by breeding a generation of children with psychological problems and a population elsewhere that reviles us. Traumatized children are prime recruits for extremist groups.
Their children and children’s children grow up in the shadow of, to use the language of 9,300 mental health experts, “shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds.” As adults, these traumatized children are significantly more likely to have encounters with law enforcement.
.. An extensive body of literature documents how early childhood trauma creates cycles of violence that can destabilize whole nations.
.. most “deterrence” interventions, including jailing and family separation, actually triggered increased terrorist attacks.
.. In North America, the survivors of forced attendance in American Indian boarding schools have seen the effects reverberate for years. Scholars in Canada have drawn causal links between boarding school attendance (sometimes for children as young as 3) in the 1900s and elevated levels of depression, drug use and criminal behavior two generations later.
.. Native American women sent to boarding schools as girls were six times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts and had a 57 percent higher rate of alcoholism as adults.
.. A 2016 study of 15,587 adult children of incarcerated parents found that separating children from parents directly increased interactions with the criminal justice system, including drug abuse and gang affiliation.
.. Syrian children separated from their support systems are “more likely to become
- the youngest laborers in the factory,
- the youngest brides at the altar, and
- the youngest soldiers in the trench.”
.. The individual suffering of older children is immediately consequential to our security because incarceration centers have become recruiting grounds for armed groups. Trump’s favorite boogeyman, the MS-13 gang from which so many Salvadorans flee, was founded in Los Angeles prisons. The United States is keenly aware that young people can be easily radicalized while imprisoned
.. We have seen the radicalization of incarcerated youths firsthand. One of us, Steven Leach, spent years working with South African juveniles awaiting trial. These youths did not all enter detention as organized criminals, but without exception, among those who worked with Leach, each left prison a member of the gang.
.. A similar problem emerged in the internment camps of the Anglo-Boer war, in which British soldiers detained civilians to deter guerrilla campaigns by Boer insurgents. Approximately 115,000 people were held in the camps between 1901 and 1902; 22,000 Afrikaner children died. More than a century later, that horror remains at the forefront of the Afrikaner imagination
.. He leverages lies to stoke fear here: “We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!”
..Naturally, this feeds radical anti-American sentiment and promotes nationalism abroad when the U.S. is most in need of alliances to solve global problems.
.. There is now strong evidence that punitive deterrence strategies don’t work, no matter how burdensome they are.
.. punishments between 2000 and 2015 effectively reduced economic migration from Mexico but had negligible impact on the population the administration is targeting with its current policy: asylum seekers fleeing violence.
The report points out that there is no consequence worse than death and violence at home for these migrants.
.. If these are people we want as enemies, we had better be prepared for a multigenerational war.
Violence in Central America has caused a surge in families requesting asylum. The Trump administration has confirmed it’s looking at bold moves to discourage them. But separating moms from kids may prove too draconian, and difficult.
.. Advocates and many Democratic lawmakers this week have recoiled at the Trump administration’s proposed policy of separating mothers from their children. For their part, officials say the surge is so large that such a drastic policy is necessary.
“I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America from getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States,” Kelly told CNN earlier this week... It has also cut the number of refugees admitted to the United States each year to 50,000, down from 110,000... But Central American families seeking asylum at the border are not part of the refugee admissions program, scholars point out. According to US immigration law and international treaties, officials are obligated to give asylum-seekers due process and a hearing to consider their claims... “Is that what the US wants to be identified with around the world?” asks Camilo Pérez-Bustillo, executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton in Ohio. “If we want to deter this kind of migration, we might want to focus on the conditions that produce it, and on policies that are transformative in terms of those conditions…. Punishing, in effect, the victims of those conditions because they’re seeking protection seems to be literally perverse.”.. It is reportedly drafting plans to cut billions of dollars from agencies such as the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides relief after natural disasters, in order to fund its expanded crackdowns on undocumented immigrants.. Officials have now been instructed to prosecute parents of unaccompanied minors for the crime of human trafficking. Critics consider this deterrent effort, too, a severe blow to those attempting to unify their families, or even save their children’s lives.
.. Supporters of the president’s immigration policies, too, note that the nation’s obligations to asylum-seekers are often easily abused... “An important problem is, a lot of time there are adults bringing kids with them, but they are not their own kids, and they are sort of rent-a-child operations,”.. “Because under Obama, if you had a kid with you, it was almost an automatic ticket to being let go”.. These TV and radio announcements warned people that they would be sent back if they tried to enter the country.“Well, that wasn’t true,”
.. Part of the reason for this surge in immigrants, most of them from Central America, continues to be the ongoing gang violence in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which have some of the world’s highest murder rates for nations not at war.
.. in years past the surge of asylum seekers from Central America included a large number of unaccompanied teenagers. Now she mostly sees families with younger children. “So it’s also very difficult for family members already here, and already working long hours, to take on the responsibility for young children needing care all the time, from changing diapers to watching toddlers and preschool age kids.”
.. “You can’t have a first-cut process that approves everybody,” he says. “The ‘credible fear standard’ needs to be raised significantly so that you don’t even get fed into the pipeline for asylum unless you have a more-than-plausible story
.. But few experts believe that in the end, the policy of separating mother from their children would deter families from trying to apply for refuge.
“If the choice is to stay in your country and die, or come to the United States and face whatever may come, it’s not really a choice,”
.. “As traumatizing as it would be to be separated from your children, if the alternative is to see them killed, it’s not really a choice and it won’t be a deterrent from coming.”
A new study from Southern Methodist University says the nation’s capital has more psychopaths per person than anyplace else in the country.
No surprise there.
.. The study notes that “psychopaths are likely to be effective in the political sphere” and that “the occupations that were most disproportionately psychopathic were
- police officer,
- chef, and
- civil servant.”
.. So if a chief executive, salesman and media personality becomes a politician, he’s hitting four of the highest-risk categories.
.. Next came the soul-deadening inversion of American values, when Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the Bible to justify ripping children from their parents at the border — including a baby being breast-fed by her Honduran mother. The Statue of Liberty wept.
.. Sessions is on a vile tear. A week ago, he vitiated the policy that made it possible to give asylum to women who are victims of domestic abuse or who are raped or threatened by the sort of gang members Trump decries as “animals.”
.. The week was capped, naturally, with a Giuliani aria — “When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons,” Rudy told The Daily News in New York — and by the usual torrent of whiny, delusional, deceptive, self-exalting tweets by President Trump.
.. We knew Trump was a skinflint and a grifter. But the New York attorney general deeply documented just how cheesy he and his children are with a suit accusing the Trump charitable foundation of illegal behavior and self-dealing. It was just what Trump always accused the Clintons of doing.
.. The supposed nonprofit was little more than a Trump piggy bank used to settle legal claims and pay off political backers. The good news for Trump was that the prosecutor proposed that he be banned from charitable activities — a fine excuse for someone who obviously wants nothing to do with charity.
.. He has somehow managed to get Republicans in a position where they are cooing over his overtures to North Korea — overtures for which they would have impeached Barack Obama — and looking the other way while he upends the free trade policy that has been party dogma for decades. Meanwhile, the usually peacenik Democrats are assailing Trump for deigning to talk nice with Kim.
.. It makes sense if you think about it: A wannabe dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father talking to a real dictator who took over the family business from a dictatorial father.