Remember when Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, said that the refugee children we are separating from their parents will “be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever”? This is what he meant by “or whatever.” Per the New York Times:
A top official with the Department of Health and Human Services told members of Congress on Thursday that the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children it placed with sponsors in the United States, raising concerns they could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.
The official, Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of the agency’s Administration for Children and Families, disclosed during testimony before a Senate homeland security subcommittee that the agency had learned of the missing children after placing calls to the people who took responsibility for them when they were released from government custody.
The children were taken into government care after they showed up alone at the Southwest border. Most of the children are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse, government data shows.
What else is there to say anymore? ICE is conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign while we separate children from their parents and stick them on what can only be defined as concentration camps on our military bases, where we have been unable to protect these kids from sexual assault. We’re not even making a concerted effort to reunite these children with their parents after deporting them, as the Houston Chronicle exposed:
Esteban Pastor hoped U.S. Border Patrol agents would free him and his 18-month-old son after they were arrested for crossing the southern border illegally last summer.
He had mortgaged his land in Guatemala to fund his sick toddler’s hospital stay, and needed to work in the United States to pay off the loan.
Instead agents imprisoned the 28-year-old in July for coming back into the country after having been deported, a felony. They placed the toddler in a federal shelter, though where, Pastor didn’t know. Three months later, in October, the father was deported — alone. His child, he said agents told him, was “somewhere in Texas.”
Here’s an extra gut-punch: this kind of negligence isn’t new. Trump has dramatically escalated our federal government’s attacks on the Hispanic community, but these same kinds of abuses occurred under Obama, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Per The Washington Post:
Unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border during a historic wave of migration earlier this decade were repeatedly beaten, sexually abused, and deprived of food and medical care by federal border agents, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released Wednesday.
About 30,000 pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through an open-records lawsuit depict a gantlet of alleged mistreatment for the tens of thousands of children who arrived mainly from Central America between 2009 and 2014, during the Obama administration. Many were seeking asylum in the United States after fleeing death threats and violence in their homelands.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly used stun guns on the minors for amusement or punishment, kicked them and threatened to either rape or kill them. The ACLU report — which is based on emails, complaint forms and investigative reports — says agents routinely kept minors in detention cells with frigid temperatures, forcing them to sleep on concrete floors.
In 2014, Frontline uncovered more unconscionable incompetence from President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services:
In 2014, at least 10 trafficking victims, including eight minors, were discovered during a raid by federal and local law enforcement in Portman’s home state of Ohio. As FRONTLINE examined in the recent documentary Trafficked in America, HHS had released several minors to the traffickers. The committee said the case was due to policies and procedures that were “inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care.”
This is America. If you ever wondered what you would have done during 1930s Germany, it’s whatever you’re doing right now.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.