Separation and Detention
By Anne Gallagher on April 1, 2019
Last week we attended two House of Representative hearings on family separations.
Tuesday (2.26.19) was a larger hearing by the House Judiciary Committee, while Wednesday (2.27.19) was a subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee.
The first hearing questioned witnesses from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Health and Human Services, and Office for Immigration Review. The main topic was to figure out the current status and cause of family separations.
The second hearing included witnesses from the Center for Immigration Studies, Women’s Refugee Commission, Immigration Law Clinic, Kids in Need of Defense, and American Psychiatric Association speaking on the impact of child detention. These will no doubt be part of a series of hearings aimed at getting clarity on Trump’s 2018 Zero Tolerance Policy, which called for the immediate arrest of anyone crossing the border. As family units approached the border, arrests of parents resulted in the separation of over 2,700 children. Many of them are still awaiting reunification. The chaos at the border created in the months during the Zero Tolerance Policy garnered enough media attention for Trump to issue an executive order for its end.
However, children remain separated and children remain detained.
Today, there are questions as to:
- why private detention facilities were used and continue to be used,
- why conditions at thedetention facilities were so poor,
- how sexual abuse may have occurred,
- why there was a failure of developing a tracking system to ensure that parents and children can be reunited,
- why there was the use of an MOA between ORR and DHS increasing deportations and time children spent in detention, and
- what was the reason on an earlier El Paso Pilot of child separations, which increased the number of separated children.
As the legislative branch continues to hold hearings to gain more clarity as to what went wrong, questions linger as to whether anyone will be held accountable. In the meantime, organizations are working tirelessly to protect children in protracted detention settings.
We will continue to keep you up to date on this subject matter.