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BREAKING NEWS

When bad goes to worst:
Former ICE director on how kids separated from parents at border can easily become orphans

July 01, 2018




Photo: Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Chronicle staff

(NATIONAL) – Rolling Stone is out with a story that shows how separating kids from their parents at the southern border can have permanent harmful effects on those children and the parents.

“John Sandweg, who served as acting ICE Director under President Obama, tells Rolling Stone online , "There's a very high risk of permanent separation" for the families that were ripped apart. Migrant parents could easily lose legal custody, he says, in a Kafka-esque tangle of American bureaucracies. (Trump on Friday mocked the migrants' "phony stories of sadness and grief.") “

Here’s where the big trouble comes into play after families are separated. From the report again:

“To understand the plight of the families affected by Trump's initiative – which Amnesty International has condemned as "nothing short of torture" – it's critical to understand that once family units are broken apart, parents and children are in the hands of two separate bureaucracies.

Here's how the process typically goes: Parents are detained by ICE within the Department of Homeland Security; the children are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services, and are now considered unaccompanied minors. Some of the children have extended family in America who can provide a home for them. For the rest, HHS seeks foster care placements – anywhere in the U.S. that can accommodate them. "They're flying these kids all over the country," says Sandweg.

The government is not equipped to keep track of the broken family units as they proceed separately through the adjudication and/or deportation process. "It's really hard, logistically, to do this – to track movements of everybody, to match IDs," Sandweg says. "And if you've got two separate agencies doing it, it's really, really hard – even if you've planned it. I'm seeing no signs that any of this was well planned."

For parents who've already been deported, Sandweg adds, "There is no agency that's now tracking the parent in Honduras." In other words, even if the Trump administration wanted to fly the child back home, Sandweg says, there's no guarantee the government knows where to send them.”

And it gets uglier. Sandweg says some desperate parents may have already been pressured into abandoning asylum claims and voluntarily accepting removal from the United States, in the mistaken belief that this would speed reunification with an infant child. But this is a false hope, he adds.

"There's no mechanism for ICE to track the location of the baby, and ICE isn't going to wait for HHS to find that kid and bring that kid down to McAllen, Texas, and pair them with the parent, and then fly the two of them back to Guatemala or Honduras – that's not how it works," Sandweg says. "ICE gets the final order of removal, and ICE is going to execute that removal order as quickly as possible. You need to free up that [detention] bed for somebody else – that's what it's all about."

And it gets uglier yet. The nightmare continues once parents return to their home countries without their children.

For what happens there and more on this story go here .





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