Migrant Baby Jails Now Massively Tremendously Historically YOOGE. USA! USA! USA!
In yet another triumph for the New Cruelty, the federal system of
jails detention centers "temporary shelters" for migrant children has expanded to record levels, with more than five times as many kids being held by the government now than there were shortly after Donald Trump took office. The New York Times reports the government is storing 12,800 children under 18 in shelters this month, an increase from 2,400 children in May 2017. The historically high numbers aren't even due to Trump's family separation program, although more than 400 of those kids are still being held because the government either claims the parents are ineligible to get their kids back, or just can't be bothered to find parents it already deported.
The Times reports virtually all the kids in detention are teens (and some younger kids) who crossed the border alone. But the huge increase in kids being held in shelters isn't the result of any increase in immigration rates, although of course that's what government officials are claiming. Rather, the shelters are staying full because fewer family members already in the US are willing to come forward to sponsor kids, mostly thanks to vetting procedures designed to scare migrants away.
The new data was reported to members of Congress, who shared it with The Times. It shows that despite the Trump administration's efforts to discourage Central American migrants, roughly the same number of children are crossing the border as in years past. The big difference, said those familiar with the shelter system, is that red tape and fear brought on by stricter immigration enforcement have discouraged relatives and family friends from coming forward to sponsor children.
Unaccompanied migrant kids had, in the past, been fairly quickly placed with relatives who sponsored them. But the number of releases to sponsors has "plummeted by about two-thirds" since last year, thanks in part to new policies imposed under the Deport Everybody regime, and now kids are filling shelters -- run by nonprofits under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services -- nearly to 100 percent capacity.
In June, the authorities announced that potential sponsors and other adult members of their households would have to submit fingerprints, and that the data would be shared with immigration authorities.
Traditionally, most sponsors have been undocumented themselves, and therefore are wary of risking deportation by stepping forward to claim sponsorship of a child.
The report notes that even sponsors who are willing to put up with the fingerprinting and "Papiere, bitte" rigamarole face waits that take months to complete.
Oh, but there is a VERY GOOD reason for the slowdown, because after all, the government simply has to do this for the children's sake. HHS press secretary Evelyn Stauffer explained in a statement, presumably typed with the sly smile you'd expect in a cartoon villain, that "Children who enter the country illegally are at high risk for exploitation by traffickers and smugglers," which is a pretty cynical cover for a system that's mostly scaring away people whose worst offense is not having legal status. But hey, we wouldn't want to place children with KNOWN (misdemeanor or civil offense) CRIMINALS, would we?
in contrast to data on actual immigration rates -- which have declined significantly in the last decade -- Stauffer's statement just plain lied about why this is happening:
The number of unaccompanied alien children apprehended are a symptom of the larger issue of a broken immigration system [...] That is why H.H.S. joins the president in calling on Congress to address this broken system and the pull factors that have led to increasing numbers at the U.S. border.
Thank heavens, to help deal with the artificially booming numbers of kids in detention, Team Trump is taking swift action: increasing the number of beds in federally run tent cities. The federal KinderCamp in Tornillo, Texas, is set to have its capacity tripled by the end of the year, the Times reports, with beds for up to 3,800. Oh, and this is fun: Federally run facilities are exempt from many state child-welfare laws that would apply to shelters run by nonprofits, although they're still nominally required not to actually starve the kids. If anyone's watching.
Why, yes, there's even more fuckery in the move to greatly expand federally operated kid jails:
Facilities like the one in Tornillo are also more expensive to operate, according to Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the shelter program. She said such facilities cost about $750 per child per day, or three times the amount of a typical shelter.
"You are flying in the face of child welfare, and we're doing it by design," Ms. DeLauro said. "You drive up the cost and you prolong the trauma on these children."
Yr Wonkette would also like to note that the expansion in unaccompanied kids in HHS custody is actually ON TOP OF the parallel expansion of family detention facilities under ICE, which over the summer raided the budget of FEMA so we can jail border crossers instead of deal with minor annoyances like hurricanes. ICE is under Homeland Security, so its financial fuckery is a scandal all its own -- and we learned last night that in addition to taking $10 million from FEMA, another $29 million for ICE detention and transportation programs was taken from the Coast Guard, which is conveniently part of DHS -- which also transferred an extra $200 million to ICE from "homeland security" programs unknown. Can't imagine what the Coast Guard would do with that money, what with a huge hurricane on its way to the Carolinas. No biggie, really, since only people who die during the storm itself will count as a problem anyway.
[NYT / HuffPo / Rachel Maddow Show on YouTube]
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