GOOD NEWS! Half The Under-Five Babies Returned To Parents Today! BAD NEWS! Er, Uh, Whoops ...
The good news is that about half of the children under five that Donald Trump's administration has torn from their parents will be returned to their families today, in half-accordance with a judge's order. The not so great news is that since the government has been unable to reunite just over a hundred kids in the first two weeks of the judge's order, it seems very unlikely it will meet the July 26 deadline to reunify the remaining kids -- somewhere around 3,000 of them, and no, the stable geniuses running the New Cruelty don't even have a complete count.
Department of Justice attorney Sarah Fabian told federal judge Dana Sabaw in a hearing yesterday that 54 out of the 102 very young children the feds have identified will be returned to their parents today, at least. Five more should be returned shortly afterward as DOJ finishes background checks on the parents. But Sabaw had ordered 84 children to be returned by today, to meet the terms of his order in the ACLU's class action case against family separation. That's simply not going to happen.
Vox's Dara Lind breaks down the reasons that the other kids won't be returned by the deadline: 12 parents are still being held on criminal charges, and may be reunited with their kids once their cases are complete. Nine parents have been deported already (the ACLU said it believes that's actually 12 children with deported parents). Another nine kids' parents have been released from custody already, and of those, some parents haven't yet been located while others are still being screened.
Beyond those 84 kids, the status of the parents is still being determined; some face non-immigration criminal charges, and a few kids might be released to a family member other than a parent. The government admits it still hasn't identified the parent(s) of one child, which is, frankly, terrifying.
All in all, while it's great that some of the children will be reunited with their parents today, it doesn't bode well for the prospects of returning thousands of older kids -- and yeah, "older" means kindergarten aged and up -- in the next two weeks. The ACLU and the government are still wrangling over several legal details, like what sort of extreme vetting parents must face to get their kids back -- while a shoplifting misdemeanor is enough for DHS to insist immigrants be deported, for instance, most sane people wouldn't say parents should never see their kids again. As if there are sane people running this mess.
And then there's the even more basic question of actually finding the parents of the remaining kids in the first place. As you may recall, the New York Times reported last week that DHS actually lost or destroyed some records identifying which children belonged to which parents, because why on earth would you keep those? On Monday's "All in With Chris Hayes," Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) said when he visited a nonprofit-run shelter for migrant kids in Grand Rapids last week, social workers said the government hadn't yet provided any information on the parents of kids in their care. The social workers had taken to cold calling every federal prison in the country to try to find where parents are being detained.
In another judicial blow to Trump's plans for cracking down on migrant families, who are the worst families ever, including Charlie Manson's, a federal judge in California yesterday rejected the DOJ's request to allow indefinite detention of families. US District Judge Dolly Gee is the same judge who in 2015 also struck down Barack Obama's family detention scheme; in both cases, she reaffirmed the 1997 Flores settlement that limits detention of immigrant children to 20 days. In a weird twist, the current DOJ motion even cited the Obama administration's language in arguing for indefinite family detention -- and Judge Gee rejected it by citing her earlier order, writing, "As it did before, the Court finds Defendants' logic 'dubious' and unconvincing." Damn, we like her.
Oh, and the kids and parents who are being reunited today? Instead of being held together in family jails, they'll be released together, possibly with the parents wearing ankle monitors, until their immigration status is determined. As the Texas Observer's Gus Bova points out,
If you're wondering: Yes, they could have done that from the beginning.
Things you can do: Call your senators and representatives and urge them to revive the very successful Family Case Management Program that allowed asylum applicants out of detention while also keeping them in close touch with a case manager. Never mind Trump's lies about "catch and release"; that program saw 99 percent of participants attending their immigration court hearings. It's such a crazy idea it just might work exactly like it already did.
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[Texas Observer / Vox / All In With Chris Hayes podcast / WaPo / Christian Science Monitor]
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.