Just protecting the Homeland

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has advanced to a new stage of Donald Trump's Deport Everyone agenda: arresting undocumented members of families that apply to sponsor children who crossed the border by themselves. It's all part of the Trump administration's mission to somehow find and deport all 12 million undocumented migrants in the USA, because deporting people is the one thing this crowd is good at.

This latest turn in the New Cruelty was already anticipated and warned about: Back in April, ICE (which handles deportations) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR, which houses migrant kids who cross the border alone and attempts to place them with relatives or other sponsors), signed a "memorandum of agreement" that allowed ICE, for the first time, to access ORR's background checks on people who came forward to sponsor kids being held by ORR and awaiting resolution of their immigration cases. Immigrants and advocacy groups warned this was a ploy to use the vetting process as an excuse to hunt down undocumented members of families, and damned if that isn't exactly what ICE is now doing, as CNN reported yesterday.

On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement senior official Matthew Albence testified to Congress that, after Health and Human Services and ICE signed a memorandum of agreement to background-check and fingerprint potential "sponsors" of immigrant children, ICE arrested 41 people who came forward.

In response to an inquiry from CNN, an ICE official confirmed that 70% of those arrests were for straightforward immigration violations -- meaning they were arrested because ICE discovered they were here illegally.

The relationships between those arrested and the minors being sponsored vary: Some may be the kids' parents or other relatives, and others may be adults in the homes of those who applied to sponsored the kids. Either way, Albence was really fucking proud of the great job ICE is doing in protecting America, because the law is the law, you know?

"We've arrested 41 individuals thus far that we've identified pursuant to that (memorandum)," Albence testified Tuesday. "Close to 80% of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally, and a large chunk of those are criminal aliens. So we are continuing to pursue those individuals."

CNN did a little checking, and that "large chunk" of "criminal aliens" turns out to be 12 of the 41 people, "according to an ICE official speaking on condition their name not be used." The other 29 were plain old "administrative" arrests on civil immigration violations. CNN didn't specify the charges in any of those 12 cases, although even misdemeanors like driving without a license are enough to result in the label "criminal alien." In keeping with Trump administration rhetoric, let's just assume all 12 were murderers and rapists. As for the others, what part of ILLEGAL don't you understand? This is a very good use of government resources.

CNN notes that ORR's parent agency, Health and Human Services, doesn't consider a family's immigration status in its background checks of sponsors -- only whether it will be a safe placement for the kid. Under the Obama administration, ORR didn't share information with ICE. But the Trump administration sees the background checks as a wonderful tool to find more low-hanging cases for deportation -- in fact, administration officials have long insisted that legal protections for children amount to nothing more than "loopholes" that encourage illegal immigration, and they even call placing unaccompanied minors with family members a form of "child smuggling."

Not surprisingly, migrants' reluctance to sponsor kids in ORR detention is one reason the baby jails are filled to record levels. No surge of undocumented kids, but very justified unwillingness to step into a trap.

Bob Carey, who ran the HHS office in charge of caring for and placing migrant kids at the end of the Obama years, says this is going to be bad for kids, because he cares more about illegal immigrants being traumatized than about Fox News viewers feeling good that someone's finally sticking it to the wetbacks:

These are kids who fled some of the most violent countries in the world. Many have experienced trauma ... rape, robbery, all kinds of exploitation [...]

The question I would ask is, are measures legitimately enhancing the security situation? The ultimate security is not releasing any child to a sponsor, because then nothing would happen to them [...] But how much harm are you causing by keeping kids in custody indefinitely in settings that were never designed for that?

Exactly the right amount of harm, obviously. If only we brutalize illegals enough, maybe they'll decide fleeing for their lives isn't worth the risk. It's not like they or their children are really human.

Why, yes, it does get worse: Just as Homeland Security has been taking money from hurricane preparedness and the Coast Guard to give ICE money for deportations and indefinite family detentions, HHS has been shifting its budget around, too, reallocating $266 million from other HHS programs to pay for ORR's baby jails. Not that anyone will miss $80 million from refugee support programs, since we aren't letting in any refugees. And just look at the other programs that are getting cut to traumatize more kids by cramming them into "shelters" and tent cities. Funds being shifted to ORR include:

$16.7 million from Head Start, $5.7 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program and $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute. Money is also being diverted from programs dedicated to mental and maternal health, women's shelters and substance abuse.

By God, Donald Trump, John Kelly, and Stephen Miller invented a crisis, and they're going to move heaven and earth and CANCER RESEARCH to deal with it, Amen, the end.

[CNN / Texas Monthly / Yahoo News]

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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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