Children Forcibly Separated from Parents Stuck at Border Facilities; HHS Contemplates Military Sites

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse.]

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly threatened to forcibly separate undocumented families, to detain children separate from their parents, and to designate them "unaccompanied minors," even if they are actually not.

Border Patrol has made good on that threat, under the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border — which has left hundreds of children stranded in overwhelmed facilities.

Julia Ainsley and Courtney Kube at NBC News report:
As of Sunday, nearly 300 of the 550 children currently in custody at U.S. border stations had spent more than 72 hours there, the time limit for immigrants of any age to be held in the government's temporary facilities. Almost half of those 300 children are younger than 12, according to the document, meaning they are classified by the Department of Homeland Security as "tender age children."

The stations, run by the Border Patrol and meant only as the first stop for children detained at the border, often lack adequate bedding or separate sleeping rooms for children.

...The overstays at border stations are a result of a backlog at U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency responsible for sheltering migrant children longer term and matching them with relatives or foster parents in the U.S. The agency's Administration for Children and Families has 11,200 unaccompanied children in its care and takes 45 days on average to place a child with a sponsor, according to a spokesperson.
The Border Patrol facilities not only lack adequate bedding and "separate sleeping rooms," which is a nice way of saying that children may be housed with adults, leaving them in peril of harm; they also lack appropriate medical resources as well as food with the proper nutritional values for growing children.

But HHS can't move them through fast enough, so, once again, we are hearing about the HHS exploring the option of housing children at military sites.
HHS officials will soon tour military installations near the border in Texas as they search for more space to house children while they wait for placement. The officials will tour Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base, and Fort Bliss, the spokesperson said.

"HHS will make the determination if they will use any of the three sites for UAC (unaccompanied alien children) operations," the spokesperson said.
That the United States government is even contemplating forcibly separating children from their parents, as a punishment of the parents, who are in many cases approaching the U.S. border seeking refuge from violence, and putting endangered children in military complexes without adequate care, should profoundly shame every U.S. citizen.

It's an absolute scandal that this president constantly shouts about how America is the "greatest country in the world!" at every opportunity — and then viciously punishes people who clamor to get in the door.

We should all be raising hell daily with our senators and representatives, demanding that these horrendous policies be immediately halted and replaced with policies centering compassion and asylum. MAKE YOUR CALLS.

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