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When the Trump administration starting taking migrant children at the border like it was a lending library, there were concerns they'd be used as leverage against their parents. This probably was because people close to Donald Trump kept saying out loud that the intent was to use them as leverage.

Trump has since heroically stopped (somewhat) doing the cruel thing he was doing. He's now moved on to an entirely new cruel thing. The former "Apprentice" host wants to add some reality TV game show spice to the immigration dilemma: Parents caught crossing the border illegally can either remain detained with their kids in a sweltering tent city or give up custody of the child, to be cared for by a hopefully nice person and maybe someday seen again. We call it "Sophist's Choice."


The idea is a way to side-step a major legal road block that prevents Trump from fully implementing his executive order to keep parents and children detained during their court proceedings. Current law prohibits the federal government from keeping children detained, even with their parents, in immigration detention for more than 20 days.

But, if a parent does not wish the child to be released from custody and taken away from them, the so-called Flores court settlement notes the parent can keep the child with them in custody. More than 2,000 Latin American children have been placed in shelters or foster homes since the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" plan went into effect.

Now, before you desperate immigrants "come on down" and "spin the wheel," you might rightly ask the question: "If I take what's behind Door Number Two, will I ever see my children again?" The answer is... screw you, stop asking, and let Sarah Huckabee Sanders eat wherever she wants.

Central American men separated from their children and held in a detention facility outside Houston are being told they can reunite with their kids at the airport if they agree to sign a voluntary deportation order now, according to one migrant at the facility and two immigration attorneys who have spoken to detainees there.

A Honduran man who spoke to The Texas Tribune Saturday estimated that 20 to 25 men who have been separated from their children are being housed at the IAH Polk County Secure Adult Detention Center, a privately-operated U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility for men located 75 miles outside Houston. He said the majority of those detainees had received the same offer of reunification in exchange for voluntary deportation.

Wait? What? So, we're back to using children as leverage again? I'd say something harsh but I don't want to make the matter worse by my lack of civility.

The 24-year-old detainee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and requested the Tribune use the pseudonym Carlos because he feared retaliation, told the Tribune that he abandoned his asylum case and agreed to sign voluntary deportation paperwork Friday out of "desperation" to see his 6-year-old daughter, who was separated from him after the pair illegally crossed the border in late May. The man said two federal officials suggested he'd be reunited with his daughter at the airport if he agreed to sign the order, which could lead to him being repatriated to his violence-torn home country in less than two weeks.

That's a lot of evil to unpack there. I might need to hire Exorcist Movers Inc. I guess the upside is that "Carlos" is receiving the "plea deals made under duress" treatment our criminal justice system regularly gives brown Americans.


Carlos said he's only spoken to his daughter once — on June 21 — since the pair were separated three weeks ago in McAllen. He said he paid a smuggler $7,000 for the 10-day journey from Honduras because he feared being caught up in the violence waged by organized crime syndicates and gangs in the country. They turned themselves in to Border Patrol officers shortly after illegally crossing into the United States on a raft that pushed off from the banks of the Rio Grande on the Mexico side near Reynosa, Carlos said.

He said he wanted a better life for his only daughter and hoped U.S. officials would grant them asylum. He was told he did not pass the first hurdle — proving he had "credible fear" of persecution or torture in Honduras — but volunteer attorneys have instructed him to revoke the paperwork he signed and appeal his credible fear ruling before an immigration judge.

Shockingly, FOX News might be lying to us about why migrants risk their lives and the lives of their children to come to the US. It's not just to vote illegally for Democrats. They're also in serious peril. Too bad immigration officials didn't believe "Carlos" had a "credible" fear of persecution. Maybe they should sample some of the regularly scheduled fearmongering from Trump and his cronies, including racist and failed standup comic Mike Huckabee.


BTW: The "Lily-White Brits" were infamous for their brutality during the 1960s.

Trump himself also played up how violent and deadly undocumented immigrants are during his Comic-Con autograph signing event last week.

Trump's theory is that every violent criminal in other (brown) countries wants to come to our shores to pursue their personal America dream of slitting our throats and violating our detached skulls. That would logically leave those countries the "happiest places on Earth," while those liberal suckers stand by and let "illegals" turn our nation into 1980s-era Busch Gardens.

It doesn't cross what passes for a Trumpist's mind that the opposite is the case: That decent people are fleeing impossible circumstances and bringing their children with them not to scam the system but to save their lives.

Elizabeth Warren told CNN that she "repeatedly asked detainees if they were happy to be there, and that they replied, 'yes, we are in America.'" Warren added, "When a woman comes here with her 4-year-old son and asks for amnesty and says, 'I am being threatened by gangs in my country,' we should at least give her a hearing."

Trump, however, thinks "hearings" and "due process" are just too much paperwork.

This leaves you wondering if the detainee Warren spoke to is mistaken about whether she is actually in "America." Trump's presidency is like one germ-laden sneeze on the nation so no one else will try to share it.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.

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