Since last week, many on Twitter have been asking #WhereAreTheChildren. Though it shows how many Americans are becoming increasingly alarmed by President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, that may not have been the most apt question here. Rather, concerned families and immigrant rights activists are asking, “Why are these families being separated in the first place?”
As we’ve been saying here all along, the case of Cecilia Gomez is one local example of the Trump administration’s larger push to dramatically reshape America’s immigration system.
But really, #WhereAreTheChildren?
After the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began to admit they couldn’t determine the exact whereabouts of nearly 1,500 migrant children, the national media picked up on this strange case of #MissingChildren. As public outrage began to grow, President Donald Trump then attempted to deflect by blaming “alien minors” for “violent gangs” and blaming Democrats for the “horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents”… Even though Trump himself encouraged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop a “zero tolerance” policy that encourages the separation of immigrant families, and the White House is implementing this policy over the objection of many Congressional Democrats.
Thanks to Trump’s continued gaslighting and other elected officials’ confusion over what’s actually happening at the border, it’s easy for private citizens to get confused by this news. There’s no evidence to corroborate Trump’s claims about “criminals” and “animals”, and there’s no law that requires the separation of families. There’s actually not much evidence that the 1,475 children are question are even “missing”, as they simply couldn’t be reached by phone when federal authorities recently tried to track some 7,600 immigrant children.
If they’re not #MissingChildren, then what’s the problem here?
From what we actually know about what federal immigration authorities are doing, the problem doesn’t seem to be the federal government casually losing children. Rather, the federal government is now operating on the premise that immigrant children should be separated from their families.
It was no accident when Las Vegas ICE agents arrested Cecilia Gomez and separated her from her children just two months ago. It was no accident when Florida ICE agents arrested another working mother, Mary Caceres, despite the her having a valid work visa. It’s no accident that Trump and Sessions are making it harder for immigrants (including refugee families) to obtain legal relief in court. And it’s no accident when federal authorities deliberately separate migrant families at the border.
This is no accident. Families are being separated deliberately.
As we discussed yesterday, actions have consequences. When the federal government removes children from their respective families, the government is placing these children are at greater risk of serious harm. Not only do these children face more psychological harm, but the ACLU recently released a report pointing to widespread child abuse at the hands of Border Patrol agents.
Ultimately, there is a serious problem with the federal government’s handling of immigrant children. It’s just not the problem that many Americans think it is. There’s no accident that resulted in #MissingChildren. Instead, we’re seeing deliberate actions that are resulting in disastrous consequences for immigrant families and the American immigration system. So next time one asks where the children are, one might as well direct that question to the White House.