Has the United States forgotten about the children in cages?

“When a stranger rips a child from a parent’s arms without any plan to reunify them, it is called kidnapping.”  — U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Joseph Flynn

Hoping to stop immigrants from attempting to cross the border from Mexico, The POTUS administration enacted a “zero tolerance” policy, criminally prosecuting anyone caught entering the U.S. illegally. The impact of this policy resulted in more than 2,700 children being torn from their families. The majority of those crossing the border are families fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in the U.S. The POTUS continuously rallies behind the FAKE claim that people entering the U.S.illegally are gang members. This was found not to be true by Homeland security.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector found thousands of additional children were separated from their parents than initially thought. Families were being separated as early as July 2017, long before the POTUS announced the “zero tolerance” policy in April 2018.Unfortunately these children are lost in the system. WHERE AND WHO ARE THEY? If we really cared, and we should, we must ask that question of our elected officials. 

Under U.S. immigration laws, people have the right to apply for asylum even if they’ve entered the country illegally. Children cannot be held in adult detention so during “zero tolerance” the children were taken to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The children are considered unaccompanied aliens and fall under the control of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which attempts to release children to a “sponsor, such as another relative or other individuals in the United States. This resulted in hundreds of children ranging in age from 3 months to 16 years old being turned over to foster home agencies throughout the United States. 

Last June, Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the government to reunite the children with their parents.

He also ordered the government to stop separating families, Hundreds of these children remain unaccounted for. The Health and Human Services department did not maintain adequate records, it is obvious there was never a plan in place to reunify these children with their parents. Many were sent to cities throughout the United States where they now reside in foster homes and will never be reunited with their birth family.

Does the U.S. use “cages” to detain children? The government denies it uses “cages” in its facilities. 

I guess we must take them at their word. News organizations have used that term to refer to the fencing enclosures at one Texas facility. NBC News described the conditions at these nonprofit shelters as “more like incarceration than temporary shelter. Health and Human Services is eyeing military bases for potential use as temporary shelters for unaccompanied children at some point in the future. This includes Fort Bliss in Texas as a “tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children plus Dyess Air Force Base and Goodfellow Air Force Base. Shouldn’t we ask WHY we need a facility to house this many children?

Immigration experts say the real crisis at the borders is migrants seeking asylum encounter an immigration infrastructure structured toward adult migrant flows of the past. This is underscored by the deaths recently of two migrant children in federal custody. The current group of immigrants are families seeking asylum in the United States. These families are not seeking to invade our country They are fleeing violence, poverty and political corruption. 

Overall border crossings have declined to their lowest level in decades. Our border is already well-protected through a combination of walls, fencing, border patrols and electronic surveillance. The POTUS is pretending to be tough in a situation when there is no need to be tough. These are women and children, not the terrorists portrayed by the POTUS. People will continue to seek asylum in the greatest country in the world, legally or illegally. The problem with a wall, it’s old school addressing the migrant flows of the past. The true crisis is why haven’t our elected officials and the media followed up on this issue, where are the children?

Joseph Flynn is a resident of the Village of Poinciana.