Immigration horror stories: Children ripped from their parents’ arms. Anguished mothers and fathers. Missing children. Children kicked, punched, called “dogs” by Customs and Border Protection officials. A teenager spending a year and a half in custody because he gave the finger to a classmate.
Makes you want to scream: Make it stop! Make it all stop!
That doesn’t work, but there are other things you can do. Start with calling your Congress member—again. Before you call, it helps to have the facts.
The real horror stories are so many and so overwhelming that it is tempting to believe everything posted on Twitter or Facebook. Like the photo I saw three times today, from the Arizona Republic, with the headline First peek: Immigrant children flood detention center. Yes, it’s awful—and it is from 2014. Or the story about DHS placing immigrant teens with traffickers—also terrible, and from 2016. A Twitter thread that went viral today tries to clarify some of what is going on in 2018, but the situation is too complicated for Twitter.
I started to explain in a blog post, and stopped when I got to 2,000 words. So here’s a very short description of four children/immigration issues in the news right now, and links to short blog posts on each. Each of these issues is real and serious. While they are related, they are not the same story, and need to be understood as separate and serious dangers to children.
Taking children from their parents
The administration hinted at this policy a few months ago and made it official at the end of April: when families cross the border without authorization, they will put the parents in jail and take away their children.
This is a Trump administration policy, not a law. Alternatives exist: they do not have to drag a screaming four-year-old out of her mother’s arms.
For more, click on Ripped from the headlines—and from his mother’s arms
1,500 missing children
In testimony before a congressional committee, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that they are unable to locate approximately 1,500 of 7,000 unaccompanied minors they have placed. This does not mean the children are actually missing, but that they could not be located by a single phone call, and that HHS didn’t try very hard to find them. Why do some people think that could be a good thing?
For more, click on 1,500 missing children: What does that really mean?
Abuse and neglect of migrant children in U.S. custody
The ACLU got 30,000 pages of documents through the Freedom of Information Act. What they found is sick: abuse and neglect of children detained by the Customs and Border Protection officers. The documents date from 2009-2014, but there’s no reason to think anything has changed for the better.
For more, click on Beating up on kids in custody: a tradition since at least 2009
Telling lies about teens and gangs
Trump calls gang members animals. Gang databases call lots of people gang members, including toddlers and boys who wear the wrong color shoelaces. One teen was arrested as a gang member and held in custody, threatened with deportation, for a year and a half—because he flipped the bird at a classmate.
For more, click on Lies about gangs and the school-to-deportation pipeline