Government Misplaced 1,500 Refugee Kids. Is That Bad?

Can't help but think there's some really bad 'what you did for the least of these' juju building up.

The folks at ICE had to be feeling pretty good about themselves last week, since for once there's an immigration disaster another federal agency can be blamed for. In testimony to a Senate subcommittee on Homeland Security Thursday, an official from the Department of Health and Human Services had to admit the agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 children who had been placed with sponsors after crossing the border, and can't guarantee that some haven't ended up with human traffickers or working in sweatshops or as unpaid laborers on farms. The disturbing news was disclosed by Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary of HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, the agency tasked with placing unaccompanied kids who cross the border; most go to parents or other family members. We suppose you could argue HHS needs better follow-up, although of course the ICEstasi knows the real answer is to keep all the kids in kid jail until they can be deported.

We don't want to upset anyone, but this just even might be a more serious problem than what a comedian said about Sarah Sanders's eyeliner.

Most of the children had fled to the United States from Central American countries where gang violence is a threat to daily life. You know, to take our jobs and destroy our culture. The New York Times reports,

From last October to the end of the year, officials at the agency’s Office of Refugee Resettlement tried to reach 7,635 children and their sponsors, Mr. Wagner testified. From these calls, officials learned that 6,075 children remained with their sponsors. Twenty-eight had run away, five had been removed from the United States and 52 had relocated to live with a nonsponsor.

But officials at the agency were unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 children, Mr. Wagner said.

They're probably just fine, unless of course they aren't. It's not that the kids are definitely missing or anything, said Wagner. It's that after HHS made an attempt to contact the sponsors and got no response, there's simply no follow-up protocol beyond making a note in the kid's file:

“There is not a further attempt to locate the child,” Wagner told the committee.

The hearing was intended to check in on progress HHS said it would make after abuses of migrant kids were discovered in 2016. The Senate subcommittee, at the request of Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, issued a report finding that eight child migrants had been placed with traffickers who made them work at an Ohio egg farm. That same year, the Associated Press reported that

more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay. At the time, many adult sponsors didn’t undergo thorough background checks, government officials rarely visited homes and in some cases had no idea that sponsors had taken in several unrelated children, a possible sign of human trafficking.

HHS has instituted background checks for sponsors since then, to ensure kids aren't going to traffickers, but the follow-up part has been sketchy, obviously. At Thursday's hearing, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota wasn't impressed at the kind of "progress" that leaves 1,500 kids' location in doubt:

You are the worst foster parents in the world. You don’t even know where they are [...] We are failing. I don’t think there is any doubt about it. And when we fail kids that makes me angry.

And now things are poised to get a whole lot worse, because the New Cruelty is far less interested in making sure migrant kids are safe than in making sure they're deported. The Trump administration is pushing to amend the law so kids can be ejected to their home countries more efficiently, where it's of no concern to us whether they're murdered or forced into gangs, just as long as they're not trafficked on this side of the border. No, there's no money to help improve conditions in those countries either, because the free ride is over. They want kids not to disappear, they can open a Trump hotel, maybe.

How else are we Getting Tough on migrant children?

The administration also is pushing to terminate the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that ensures unaccompanied minors are housed in the “least restrictive” setting, preferably with their parents or other adult relatives, while they await hearings in immigration court.

Last year, the administration announced it would begin arresting sponsors who had hired smugglers to bring their children into the U.S., a move that sent a shudder through immigrant communities nationwide.

We need to foster respect for the law, after all, and America is tired of being taken advantage of. Besides, everyone who watches Fox News knows there's no real violence in Central America; migrants are just coached to lie about it. Since we obviously can't keep track of kids once they cross the border, the answer is simple: Send 'em all home and let 'em die. If God wanted them to live, He'd have let them be born here. And Anglo.

UPDATE: Hey, check out this helpful addendum on why conflating these "missing" kids with Trump's horrible family separation policy is bad.

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[NYT / Think Progress / ABC News]

Doktor Zoom

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.


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