That is how many children were separated from 1,940 parents at southern border crossings in just the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data the Associated Press obtained and published Friday.
This means, per day, an average of 47 children are torn from their parents’ arms in what the White House is labeling a “zero tolerance” policy toward immigration.
A few reporters were given rigidly monitored access earlier this week to the Casa Padre detention center in Brownsville, Texas, a former Walmart, where on a wall, in English and Spanish, is written the quote from former president Obama: “We are and always will be a nation of immigrants.”
1,500 boys aged 10 to 17 are currently detained in this facility.
Upon entering, they were treated to an image of Donald Trump, next to which the quote, “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war” is printed.
“Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”
This is, of course, a lie, as reporters pointed out to him, reminding the president he has the authority to order this practice stopped immediately. In fact, Senate Democrats introduced legislation last week to ban it.
Manuel Padilla Jr., the official in charge of enforcing the administration’s edict, told The Washington Post on Saturday the number of child detainees will continue to increase as U.S. border patrol works to increase prosecutions for illegal border crossings.
Immigration activists argue the policy ignores the myriad reasons families are fleeing Central American countries, most notably gang violence.
Wendy Young, president of Kids In Need of Defense, a nonprofit group that provides immigrant children with legal support, stated:
“It doesn’t matter how cruel we become; [parents] are going to take that risk.”
Medical experts, particularly the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) assert the Trump policy will cause “irreplaceable harm” to the children separated from their families.
Several congressional lawmakers chose Fathers’ Day to tour another facility, in McAllen, Texas, where, according to estimates, around 1,100 undocumented individuals are being held, including almost 200 unaccompanied minors.
Inside, 20 or more boys are confined to cages on concrete floors, provided foil blankets, thin mattress pads, bottled water, and some food. High metal fencing surrounds the various groups ranging from unaccompanied males and females 17 and under, and male and female heads of households with families. Single adult males are housed separately. Their shoelaces have been confiscated, like prisoners.
Following the tour, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) tweeted:
“I just exited a border patrol ‘processing facility’ known as the ‘icebox.’ It is nothing short of a prison.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) spoke of a mother whose daughter was separated from her in the processing center.
“She’s being charged with illegal entry. Under the new policy, they will deliberately separate — deliberately separate — moms and dads from their sons and daughters. This is a choice that the Trump administration has made. It is inhumane. It is cruel.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) added:
“When you have a mother tell you directly that she’s in fear that she will never see her child again . . . then you know that what we are saying today is, ‘President Trump, cease and desist.’ ”
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Tex.) suggested in an interview that because of the planned visit, officials made things look presentable.
“It was in anticipation of a congressional delegation, so you’ve got to begin with that premise. It was orderly, but it was far from what I would call humane.”
In one area, as if straight out of author George Orwell’s dystopic novel 1984, virtual processing terminals with video screens were set up to allow detainees to communicate remotely with processing agents.
Following the tour, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), told the press:
“The zero-tolerance policy means zero humanity and makes zero sense.”
This was different treatment from that which Sen. Merkley was subjected to earlier this month. He was denied entry, about which he commented:
“Members of Congress have top-secret clearances. It shouldn’t be secret as to how we’re treating children inside our borders.”
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