By Jonathan Blitzer
The New Yorker (6/18/18)
A few days ago, Emily Kephart, a program coördinator at an immigrant-rights group called Kids in Need of Defense, set out to try to find a six-year-old Guatemalan girl who had been separated from her father after arriving in the United States, in May. The pair had been split up as a consequence of the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy at the border, which calls for the criminal prosecution of all migrants, including asylum seekers, who cross the border without turning themselves in to officials at so-called ports of entry. Now the father was in an immigration-detention facility in Arizona, awaiting deportation. He had no idea where his child was. Kephart was put on the case after the father called his family, back in a small town outside of Huehuetenango City, in Guatemala’s western highlands, and his family, in turn, contacted a local nonprofit that works with Kids in Need of Defense.
There is no formal process in place to insure that a family that’s been separated at the border gets deported back to their home country together.
Every undocumented immigrant who enters government custody is assigned what’s called an alien number. But the girl’s family didn’t know hers. Armed with only the girl’s name and birth date, Kephart dialed a 1-800 hotline set up by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.), the federal body in charge of handling unaccompanied immigrant children. This hotline, Kephart told me, is difficult to access for parents who are in a detention facility (hold times can last half an hour; it’s impossible to leave a call-back number) or who have been deported (international calls are expensive, and 1-800 numbers don’t often work from abroad).
Bureaucratic dead end
“We hit a dead end,” Kephart said. “The person I spoke with just made a note in the file of the girl they thought it might be. But we didn’t get confirmation that we were talking about the same child. They were looking at the record of someone whose first name was spelled differently, and whose date of birth was a month off.”
In the past two months, the government has taken some two thousand immigrant children away from their parents. Under the zero-tolerance policy, border crossers are arrested and charged with a crime before being placed in immigration detention. If they came with their children, the children are turned over to O.R.R. and treated as though they travelled to the U.S. alone. No protocols have been put in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. …
- Dirty Tradition: Top Six Dictators Who Also Divided Children From Parents, Just Like Trump/Sessions — Separating children from their parents, as Trump, Sessions and their myrmidons are doing, is monstrous and has been characteristic of the biggest dictators of the modern era. Here are a few cases in case you don’t believe me … Read the Rest
- Face Of The Uncaring Bureaucrat: Kirstjen Nielsen Becomes Face Of Trump’s Border Kidnappings — Kirstjen Nielsen, President Donald Trump’s secretary of Homeland Security, emerged on Monday as the face of the administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy — though internally, she is not seen as a supporter. Nielsen made a rare and hastily arranged appearance in the White House briefing room on Monday afternoon, where she defended the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their parents. Sounding alternately animated and defensive, Nielsen said the administration would “enforce every law we have on the books,” even if it meant breaking up parents and their kids. … Read the Rest
- Homeland Security Commissar Kirstjen Nielsen Gets Serenaded During Dinner At Swanky DC Restaurant — “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace!” — She is confronted eating in — get this — a Mexican restaurant. Don’t let these bastards have a moment of peace. As long as the children suffer, they need to be hounded like the moral hyenas they are. Link to Twitter Video