1,475 Disappeared Children
The Arizona Republic writer E.J. Montini has a story that is so horrible that it can’t be true … can it? Yes, it’s true. Excerpts:
The Trump administration recently announced a new, get-tough policy that will separate parents from their children if the family is caught crossing the border illegally.
It was a big news story. So big it overshadowed the fact that the federal government has lost – yes, lost – 1,475 migrant children in its custody.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told Congress that within 48 hours of being taken into custody the children are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which finds places for them to stay.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement reported at the end of 2017 that of the 7,000-plus children placed with sponsored individuals, the agency did not know where 1,475 of them were.
Last month, PBS’s Frontline reported that some of these children were released by the feds into the hands of human traffickers:
In 2014, at least 10 trafficking victims, including eight minors, were discovered during a raid by federal and local law enforcement in Portman’s home state of Ohio. As FRONTLINE examined in the recent documentary Trafficked in America, HHS had released several minors to the traffickers. The committee said the case was due to policies and procedures that were “inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care.”
After unaccompanied minors arrive in the United States, often to reunite with family members or to flee violence or poverty in their home countries, they are typically transferred from border patrol or customs officers to the custody of HHS, which often reunites the minors with a relative or another sponsor. The department is supposed to place check-in phone calls 30 days after a minor’s placement, but during the hearing, Wagner acknowledged gaps in that system.
In an interview with FRONTLINE for Trafficked in America, Portman said that HHS cannot ignore its responsibility for unaccompanied minors.
“We’ve got these kids,” he said. “They’re here. They’re living on our soil. And for us to just, you know, assume someone else is going to take care of them and throw them to the wolves, which is what HHS was doing, is flat-out wrong. I don’t care what you think about immigration policy, it’s wrong.”
Nearly 1,500 kids, disappeared. I agree with Sen. Portman: no matter what you think of US immigration policy, this is horrifying.
Why is this not a massive scandal? We’re talking children here. I suppose that’s one way to guarantee that people don’t try to cross the border illegally with their children: tell them that the US government will take their kids away, and oops, might even lose them, or even hand them off to human traffickers.
We can’t stand for this, America.