Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, September 19, 2023
Homeland Security is separating children from their families in Border Patrol facilities in Texas, saying the surge of migrants is too overwhelming to accommodate them all.
Children as young as 8 years old, who are supposed to be kept in cells with their parents, are instead being put into cells that hold unaccompanied children, according to a special monitor appointed by a federal judge to oversee border detention. The monitor said it’s possible some children younger than 8 also have been separated.
Dr. Paul H. Wise, the monitor, said the result is a new trauma inflicted on kids who have just survived the treacherous journey to reach the U.S.
He didn’t give numbers on how many children have been separated, but said it’s bad enough that it’s erased much of the good work CBP has done over the last year to try to improve conditions for children at the border facilities.
“However, these efforts to provide trauma-informed care and a child-friendly environment have been rendered irrelevant for children who have been separated from their parents while in custody,” he said.
Family separation has been a touchy area for Homeland Security since the Trump administration, when the government tried to stop a surge of migrant families by prosecuting parents for illegal entry, a misdemeanor. Since the criminal justice system doesn’t have family jails, the children were taken and put in the care of Health and Human Services.
But the government had no way of reuniting the families once the parents’ criminal cases were completed, often after just a couple of days with a guilty plea and a sentence of time served. Thousands of children were separated.
The current border situation is different, in that the families are at the same facility and are reunited once they leave, the special monitor said.
But the surge of migrants means that they are regularly separated while in holding cells, with the children held in child-only rooms.