Thousands More Families Were Separated At The Border Than Thought (Video)

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There is indeed a crisis at our Southern border with Mexico.

But it does not entail “caravans of illegals” bringing “drugs, crime, and terrorists.”

The crisis involves the trauma we are inflicting on families by separating children from their parents.

And it’s even worse than previously thought.

An Office of Inspector General (OIG) report published Thursday states health department officials estimate “thousands of separated children” were placed in its care prior to a June court order requiring the reunification of 2,600 other children.

According to the report:

“The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown.”

Not only did the U.S. government separate thousands more children from their parents than previously thought; it was separating them before April 2018 when authorities admitted its child separation policy, which Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen initially denied existed.

In light of these revelations, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) asked the FBI on Friday to open a perjury investigation.

According to this week’s OIG report:

“Thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the court, and HHS has faced challenges in identifying separated children.”

Moreover, the report admits we have no idea where separated children eventually released from custody are, stating that when released, they would be considered “unaccompanied minors,” or UACs.

In June, the Trump administration claimed it had ended the family separation policy.

A week later, a federal judge responded to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit, ordering 2,600 children reunited with their parents.

This is around the time news broke about refugee children in U.S. custody being injected with psychotropic drugs.

In July, after the Justice Department’s (DOJ) family separation policy was coming under increasing criticism, the administration admitted it may have mistakenly separated a father and toddler who could have been U.S. citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project deputy director, Lee Gelernt, said he plans on returning to court in light of the OIG report’s recent revelations, stating:

“This policy was a cruel disaster from the start. This report reaffirms that the government never had a clear picture of how many children it ripped from their parents.”

After the administration’s secret had been exposed, Trump signed an executive order halting the child separation practice.

Hours before, he tried defending the actions by claiming the Obama and Bush administrations had also practiced them:

“This has been going on for 50 years—longer. This has been going on under President Obama, under President Bush, this has been going on for many many years. We are gonna see if we can solve it. This is not something that happened just now.”

While technically true, this is misleading.

According to Vox:

“It’s not that no family was ever separated at the border under the Obama administration. But former Obama administration officials specify that families were separated only in particular circumstances—for instance, if a father was carrying drugs—that went above and beyond a typical case of illegal entry…We don’t know how often that happened, but we know it was not a widespread or standard practice…Both presidents prosecuted many border crossers. But Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy created family separation.”

Migration Policy Institute policy analyst, Sarah Pierce, commented:

“Bush and Obama did not have policies that resulted in the mass separation of parents and children like we’re seeing under the current administration.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is unable to point to statistics regarding the number of children the Obama administration supposedly separated from their parents.

The numbers of apprehended adults referred for prosecution under President Obama is 21%, which does not account for children who may have been separated from their parents.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, explained:

“We have not seen any data out of the current or prior administration on how many cases that were prosecuted were individuals who arrived with minors. So we cannot make any guesses or assumptions about how many separations based on prosecution there were or are.”

At the end of last year, Jakelin Caal, a seven-year-old Guatemalan asylum seeker, fell ill and died.

A few weeks later, 12 minutes before Christmas day, eight-year-old Guatemalan boy Felipe Gómez Alonzo succumbed to an undisclosed illness that had hours before brought him to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, NM for what was initially diagnosed as a cold.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.