The Federal Government Lost 1,500 Immigrant Children

Separating young children from their parents is bad enough. Losing 20 percent of the kids in federal care is appalling.

Sometimes the truth is stranger and more appalling than satirists could possibly imagine. That was the case recently when the news emerged that the federal government had misplaced 1,500 immigrant children.

For the past year, the Trump Administration has implemented a policy of separating children from immigrants who were being held in immigration detention centers. As John Stonestreet noted in Breakpoint, it was not only illegal immigrant families that were being torn apart, but also families who had come to the United States legally to seek asylum.

Earlier this month, CNN reported on the Senate testimony of Steven Wagner, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Wagner revealed that in the last three months of 2017 the government had lost track of an astounding 20 percent of undocumented minors in its custody. In all, Mr. Wagner testified that the Office of Refugee Resettlement “was unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 children.” Another 28 children were known to have run away.

Mr. Wagner was not overly concerned with the 1,500 missing children. “I understand that it has been HHS's long-standing interpretation of the law that ORR is not legally responsible for children after they are released from ORR care,” he told senators.

Stonestreet noted that Obama Administration policy was to detain families of asylum seekers while their applications were being reviewed. The Trump Administration initiated the policy of separating families to discourage immigrants from coming to the US.

Earlier in May, the Trump Administration announced the new policy of referring every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at the time, “If you're smuggling a child, we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally.”

On May 11, Chief of Staff John Kelly told ABC News, “The children will be taken care of -- put into foster care or whatever.”

The policy is apparently being used against legal immigrants seeking asylum as well. In Breakpoint, Stonestreet cited the case of “Mrs. L.,” a Catholic refugee who was detained in San Diego and separated from her daughter without due process. The daughter was sent to a facility in Chicago where their only contact has been a half-dozen phone calls.

When the policy of family separations became news this week, President Trump responded by blaming Democrats. The president tweeted that Democrats needed to be pressured “to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.” The problem is that the separations are Trump Administration policy, not a legal requirement.

While needlessly separating young children from their parents is bad enough, losing 20 percent of the children in federal care is appalling. If the Trump Administration hopes to persuade Americans that the federal government is not competent at even the smallest task, losing more than a thousand children in its care is an excellent way to start.

The hardline policy may backfire on the Trump Administration politically. Americans have consistently been more accepting of immigrants than Republicans have been. Last year, Fox News found that 83 percent of registered voters supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. Ripping small children from the arms of their parents is unlikely to boost support for strict immigration enforcement.

The policy is likely to make the Republican brand look even worse. An AP poll from March found that most Americans already think President Trump is racist. A policy separating immigrant parents from their children is unlikely to convince people otherwise.

Trump’s policy is also inconsistent with the image of a party that claims to be pro-family and Christian. Republicans have scored recent victories against abortion and Planned Parenthood, but the poorly-implemented child separation policy lends credence to liberal claims that the party only cares about children until they are born.

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” But Christ also gave a warning, saying, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,” Jesus said. “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

Ripping families apart to make a political point is hard to square with Christian and conservative ideals. It is even more difficult to justify taking so little care that 1,500 little children – 20 percent of the total – could be placed into federal care and simply disappear.

[Photo: ICE Special Agents (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) arresting suspects during a 2010 raid in Houston.]

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Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

@JaneKMiller: I can take it from your response that you can't answer the question then?

JaneKMiller
JaneKMiller

@Jack -- Oh no, it took a grown-up to shame you, believe me.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

@JaneKMiller: My personal views are completely irreverent to this discussion. I asked a question. Either you can answer it or stop wasting time. Your childish attempts to shame or perhaps infuriate me are beyond silly.

Chevy99
Chevy99

Answer me honestly Diogenes, what would you risk to give your child a chance at a better life?

Diogenes
Diogenes

It's the parents of these children who consciously make the choice to have their families separated. This is not a secret law/policy, is it?

No. 26-38
Chevy99
Chevy99

Hyperbole aside, what the founding fathers thought about immigration is really more than pointless. I mean they were so hard up for labor they forced people to come here and enslaved them. Not exactly the immigration policy that America has sense settled on. Nor is it true that children are just ripped from their family when the parents commit a crime. The state goes out of their way to make sure the child has as little as possible change in their lives. Whether that means putting them with family or friends. I mean they have a whole department to handle situations just like that. Which brings me to the actual issue, when did Republicans start wanting to punish people for trying to better their lives and the lives of their children? I still believe America is the land of opportunity and the fact that so many people want to rip families and endanger children because a parent wanted to give their children a better chance at life seems so UnAmerican. Not to mention unChristian, but there's no way anyone can say Republicans are the Christian party anymore. Either way this new screw them attitude disgusts me and makes me want to vote Democrat.

FloridaMan
FloridaMan

They weren't lost, they ran away. Slight dif.

JaneKMiller
JaneKMiller

@Jack -- Yeah, I don't argue with racists. No point. But don't hide who you are. Be a man and stand up for what you believe in, even if those "main stream people" think you are repulsive.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

@JaneKMiller: If you disagree that was Jefferson's view I am willing to be enlightened but I don't think the evidence exists. Simply put, for better or worse, the Founders had views on race closer to the 18th century than the 21st. Further, mockery is not an argument. And, used as you have done here, is typically more a way to escape an argument you're losing and save face.

JaneKMiller
JaneKMiller

@Jack -- HAHA all White Men. Perfect. Way to show your cards, bub.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

Well Jane, if you don't think the MS-13 gang are animals I think that says a lot more about you than it does Trump.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

If the person is an illegal then yes you do "rip them from their life of decades in an American community". That's is the law. To do anything else would be to make a mockery of it.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

And we are talking about a lot more than just missing some paperwork. We are talking about whether we are a nation, with rules and Sovereignty, or just a shopping mall anyone can wander in and out of as they wish.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

And the "magical power" is the same that causes you to care for your kids a lot more than your neighbor kid despite them living only a few feet away. Because it isn't the distance that's important but the connections we share.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

@JaneKMiller: Even if we accept Jefferson really meant "all men" and not white men, itself quite a stretch, it would simply mean that in a perfect world all men would have these rights. That these rights are worth exporting around the globe. But it does not mean the border ceases to exist or that it is good or desirable to import whomever can stumble over our border.

Jack_Krevin
Jack_Krevin

Shrug. Losing a 1500 kids is bad but why would increasing the number of people the Government has to track somehow make it better? Besides, as I've mentioned on previously articles, we already separate children from family members when they commit crimes, including putting them in child services, so why is it only in this one instance does it get your panties in a twist?

JPL
JPL

But Gorsuch!

JaneKMiller
JaneKMiller

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

These people are people. If the founding principles of our country are to mean anything at all, it's that these people are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.

Not endowed by Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Trump, or Mitch McConnell; not endowed by the side of some man-made border their parents happen to have been born on: so endowed by their creator.

Somebody please explain to me what sort of magical power makes the child born a few hundred yards south of our border not worthy of Rights. Tell me why that child is an animal to be let loose somewhere and the one on this side is a somehow deserving of a shot at a free life.

People who break our laws should be treated in accordance with the laws they have broken. Walking across our border looking for work while not filing the proper paperwork is absolutely not a capital crime, and nothing even close. It's on the order of hunting without a license or perhaps practicing a trade without a license.

You don't rip somebody's children away from them for cutting hair without a barber's license. You don't rip them from their life of decades in an American community either.

Trump called the people at the border "animals" for a reason. This is the kind of hate you have to have on in order to execute the policies the Trump administration is executing.