Update on the “summer camps” for kids separated from their parents

At the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Tuesday a high ranking ICE official described family detention centers as being like a “summer camp,” while the Health and Human Services Commander (pictured above) admitted he warned the administration about the long term trauma immigrant kids would suffer if they were separated from their parents. Government witnesses did not reply directly when asked by senators whether they would want to send their own children to such a “summer camp.”

“We’re here today because the Trump Administration has engaged in … a deeply immoral and haphazard policy that fundamentally betrays American values,“ said California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that minors held in a Texas facility were so troubling that she ordered the government to transfer all the children to other facilities until improvements could be made.

One Senate exchange was emblematic of the entire situation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, asked each of the panelists what had gone wrong. Each of the agency representatives said they were simply doing their job and staying in their lane. They all agreed the policy was “successful” in reducing the number of people crossing the border illegally, but they were noncommittal on the damage to those involved.

Protesters hold signs in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth

The federal government makes it difficult to learn the number and location for either parents or children separated who are now in New Jersey. It is known that some have been held in NJ facilities. The Center for Family Services in Camden is one such location. After making a surprise visit to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Elizabeth, on June 17, Rep. Bill Pascrell said, “What we saw here today was heartbreaking. Parents are being held prisoner inside, literally crying to us to be reunited with their families. These are people trying to escape extreme violence and poverty. What is happening to them is despicable. It is a sin.” To read what NJ political officials have said about family separation go here.

Of the more than 2,600 kids the government separated from their parents under the policy, only 1,560 have been reunited with their parents, thanks to a court order. Hundreds more remain separated with no clear reunification date in sight. Immigrant advocates and lawyers have said that the policy has been chaotic, and that it was evident there was no plan in place for how to reunify families before the separations began on a large scale.

A key Trump legacy has become the national outcry over the separation of immigrant families at the U.S. Southern border. Let’s remember this as we protest our President’s actions.

Preview picture: (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The Associated Press. Protest photo credit: Stephanie Keith / Reuters

Comment (1)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    The horror stories of these ‘summer camps’ from hell are beginning to pile up. It’s obvious from the unprepared, sloppy decision-making of President Trump & his administration that the chaos would be a bonanza for child molesters in immigrant youth centers for children run by U.S. HHS that were already a problem, but are now a ‘gold mine for predators’ (as Pro Publica found).

    And yesterday, this story of kids drugged in detention centers; children thrown to the floor and their mouths pried open for pills, one kid given 16 pills a day without being told what they were or what for, kids threatened to take the pills or be faced with longer detention … and that’s just the stuff we know.


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