“The youngest child to come before the bench in federal immigration courtroom No. 14 was so small she had to be lifted into the chair…

PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS CREATED BY TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FAMILY SEPARATION POLICY

“Even the judge in her black robes breathed a soft “aww” as her latest case perched on the brown leather.
Her feet stuck out from the seat in small gray sneakers, her legs too short to dangle. Her fists were stuffed under her knees. As soon as the caseworker who had sat her there turned to go, she let out a whimper that rose to a thin howl, her crumpled face a bursting dam.
The girl, Fernanda Jacqueline Davila, was 2 years old: brief life, long journey. The caseworker, a big-boned man from the shelter that had been contracted to raise her since she was taken from her grandmother at the border in late July, was the only person in the room she had met before that day.
“How old are you?” the judge asked, after she had motioned for the caseworker to return to Fernanda’s side and the tears had stopped. “Do you speak Spanish?”
… there are more children showing up more often to federal immigration courtrooms like Judge Zagzoug’s, at hearings that could determine whether they will be deported, reunited with their parents, or granted the asylum that their parents desperately want for them. They often sit at counsel tables alone, unaccompanied by any family and sometimes without even a lawyer.” (A)

“ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said Immigration and Customs Enforcement isn’t always providing advance notice before sending children back to their parents in Central America. That means the children end up stranded in airports, with their parents sometimes days away in distant villages.
Gelernt said ICE flew a five-year-old boy to Guatemala City without notifying the ACLU or the parents, so he would have to “spend the night in a strange shelter.” (B)

“A top Health and Human Services official told Congress on Tuesday that he and others repeatedly warned the Trump administration that its policy of separating immigrant families apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border would not be in “the best interest of the child.”
“During the deliberative process over the previous year, we raised a number of concerns in the (Office of Refugee Resettlement) program about any policy which would result in family separation due to concerns we had about the best interest of the child as well as about whether that would be operationally supportable with the bed capacity that we have,” Jonathan White, with the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing…
The latest number of immigrant children who remain in detention and apart from their parents stands at 711, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The parents of 431 of those kids have already been deported, while the parents of 120 children waived their right to reunify with them. Sixty-seven other children had parents or guardians that raised a ‘red flag’ about their fitness for the child following background checks.” (C)

“The Department of Homeland Security was not ready to carry out the Trump administration’s family separation policy, and some of the government’s practices made the problem worse, according to a report issued Tuesday by the department’s inspector general…
“DHS was not fully prepared to implement the administration’s zero-tolerance policy or to deal with some of its after-effects,” said John Kelly, the acting inspector general.
Tuesday’s report said Customs and Border Protection held children for long periods in facilities intended to be used for only short terms, lacked the ability to reliably track children separated from their parents, and in some cases failed to adequately inform parents about the separation policy…
Computer systems used by CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement lacked the ability to share data about parents whose children were separated from them. And those systems were not integrated with the resettlement agency…
In a separate DHS inspector general report dated September 27, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, a detention center housing up to 1,940 ICE detainees in California, was cited for serious violations including nooses found hanging in detainee cells, “improper and overly restrictive segregation,” and “untimely and inadequate medical care.” “ (D)

“ICE agents detaining children needing emergency care, targeting immigrants visiting sick family members and deporting patients as they exit hospitals are putting healthcare workers in precarious positions. Some are finding their professional purpose compromised by federal immigration policies and fear patient health will suffer.
A recent survey from the advocacy group Children’s Partnership found about 40% of immigrant patients in California are skipping appointments and scheduling fewer visits with their providers for fear of confrontation with ICE. One recent study of 545 Mexican women in the United States concluded that fear of deportation could be a cardiovascular risk factor for the country’s ethnic minorities…
The American Hospital Association does not have a specific policy on the removal, detainment or apprehension of immigrant patients from medical facilities, so hospitals have largely been navigating their own way through murky immigration laws…
As a law enforcement body, ICE must go through a subpoena process to get a patient’s information. But what happens when ICE agents camp on hospital property while a person of interest is being treated, as was the case with a critically ill woman from El Salvador who last year was bound in her wheelchair by federal agents who moved her from the Texas hospital where she was awaiting emergency brain tumor surgery and into a detention center?” (E)

“The U.S. government has deported hundreds of migrant parents without their children in the aftermath of President Trump’s now-defunct family separation policy. But now administration officials are arguing that it’s the responsibility of the American Civil Liberties Union, not the federal government, to find those deported mothers and fathers.
Justice Department lawyers wrote in a court filing Thursday that the ACLU should use its “considerable resources,” its network of advocacy groups, and information from the government to locate parents removed to foreign countries. The Trump administration added, however, that the State Department has made contact with foreign governments to assist in facilitating family reunions…
ACLU lawyers pushed back against the Trump administration’s demands to find the deported parents, saying that they will do “whatever they can” but that the government must bear the ultimate burden.
The government told a federal court judge that non-profit groups, rather than government officials, should take the lead in reunifying immigrant families…
The ACLU wrote that “there is no blueprint for finding deported parents,” who are scattered in various cities across Central America and who, in many cases, left behind minimal address information.” (F)

“In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night in recent weeks and loaded onto buses with backpacks and snacks for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.
Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases…
But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Tex., children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited…
The camp in Tornillo operates like a small, pop-up city, about 35 miles southeast of El Paso on the Mexico border, complete with portable toilets. Air-conditioned tents that vary in size are used for housing, recreation and medical care. Originally opened in June for 30 days with a capacity of 400, it expanded in September to be able to house 3,800, and is now expected to remain open at least through the end of the year.” …
The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training.
The tent city in Tornillo, on the other hand, is unregulated, except for guidelines created by the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, schooling is not required there, as it is in regular migrant children shelters…
The longer that children remain in custody, the more likely they are to become anxious or depressed, which can lead to violent outbursts or escape attempts, according to shelter workers and reports that have emerged from the system in recent months.” (G)

“It doesn’t take a psychologist to understand that ripping children from their beds in the middle of the night, tearing them from anyone they’ve forged a connection with, and thrusting them into uncertainty could damage them…How to best handle the cases of unaccompanied minors has perplexed authorities since the Obama administration. But the current crowding is not a result of some sharp increase in children stealing across the border — the influx is no greater now than it has been for the past two years.
Instead, the Trump administration’s own draconian policies are to blame. Around the same time that it began separating immigrant children from their parents as they crossed into the United States, the Department of Homeland Security also established strict requirements for the relatives and friends who might care for these children while their cases are sorted out. Prospective sponsors are now required to submit fingerprints, and to share their information with federal immigration officers. Because most of them are undocumented immigrants themselves, they have been scared off by these requirements. And with good cause: Dozens of applicants who took the chance of applying to be sponsors have been arrested on immigration charges. As would-be sponsors shrink away, more children are stranded in federal custody”… (H)

“Thousands of foster children may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, says a federal watchdog agency that found a failure to care for youngsters whose lives have already been disrupted.
A report released Monday by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office found that about 1 in 3 foster kids from a sample of states were prescribed psychiatric drugs without treatment plans or follow-up, standard steps in sound medical care.
Kids getting mood-altering drugs they don’t need is only part of the problem. Investigators also said children who need medication to help them function at school or get along in social settings may be going untreated.
The drugs include medications for attention deficit disorder, anxiety, PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Foster kids are much more likely to get psychiatric drugs than children overall.
“We are worried about the gap in compliance because it has an immediate, real-world impact on children’s lives,” said Ann Maxwell, an assistant inspector general.” (I)

“Traditionally, most sponsors have been undocumented themselves, and therefore are wary of risking deportation by stepping forward to claim sponsorship of a child. Even those who are willing to become sponsors have had to wait months to be fingerprinted and otherwise reviewed.
Federal officials say their vetting procedures are designed to safeguard the children in their care.
“Children who enter the country illegally are at high risk for exploitation by traffickers and smugglers,” Ms. Stauffer said in her statement.
But the longer children are detained, the more anxious and depressed they are likely to become, according to Mr. Greenberg, who oversaw the program under Mr. Obama. When that happens, children may try to harm themselves or escape, and can become violent with the staff and with one another, he said.
Stories of such behavior have emerged through reporting in recent months as the shelter system has faced intense criticism by members of Congress and the public…
The separated children injected a new degree of chaos into the facilities, according to several shelter operators, who spoke anonymously because they are barred by the government from speaking to the news media. The children were younger and more traumatized than those the shelters were used to dealing with, and they arrived without a plan for when they could be released or to whom.” (J)

“These are kids who fled some of the most violent countries in the world. Many have experienced trauma … rape, robbery, all kinds of exploitation,” said Bob Carey, who ran the HHS office overseeing child detention at the end of the Obama administration.
“The question I would ask is, are measures legitimately enhancing the security situation?” added Carey, who’s now a leadership and government fellow with the Open Society Foundations. “The ultimate security is not releasing any child to a sponsor, because then nothing would happen to them. But how much harm are you causing by keeping kids in custody indefinitely in settings that were never designed for that?”
In September 2017, then-ICE acting Director Tom Homan said at a public event that his agency would arrest undocumented people who came forward to care for the children.
“You cannot hide in the shadows,” Homan said at a Washington border security event, adding that parents should be “shoulder-to-shoulder” with their children in court. “We’re going to put the parents in proceedings, immigration proceedings, at a minimum. … Is that cruel? I don’t think so.” (K)

“Deep within the fine print of a newly proposed federal rule change is an admission of its disastrous health consequences. The Department of Homeland Security’s plan would deny legal immigrants permanent residency status if they accept government assistance to which they are entitled, allegedly an effort to “promote immigrant self-sufficiency” and ensure “they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers” or “public charges.”
But the certain collateral damage of this misguided policy, which greatly expands an existing principle to make its application downright punitive, reveals it’s not about promoting self-sufficiency at all.
In describing the impact of this effort, the Department of Homeland Security states, “Disenrollment or foregoing enrollment…by aliens otherwise eligible for these programs could lead to:
“Worse health outcomes, including prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants or children…
“Increased use of emergency rooms and emergency care as a method of primary health care due to delayed treatment
“Increased prevalence of communicable diseases, including among members of the U.S. citizen population who are not vaccinated.”..
The rule change, if implemented, will cause legal immigrants, their spouses and children, including U.S. citizens, to withdraw from government assistance programs out of fear that it would endanger the chances for a family member to obtain a green card and become a legal permanent resident. Washington will, in effect, force individuals to choose between their welfare and a family member’s legal residency status…
Some children will not receive necessary vaccines, making them susceptible to preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, Hepatitis A and B, and polio. Illnesses will not be addressed when they are easily treatable. Without proper prenatal and perinatal care, there will be an increase in birth complications.” (L)

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” President Trump said on June 20, when he signed an executive order halting his administration’s depraved practice of separating migrant children from parents seeking asylum at the nation’s southern border. “This will solve that problem.”..
With its zero-tolerance barbarism, the Trump administration managed to do an impressive amount of damage in a very short time. In the six weeks the policy was in effect, more than 2,600 children were taken from their parents, with zero thought or planning for how the families might eventually be reunited…
Predictably, the Trump administration has shown less enthusiasm for cleaning up this mess than it did for making it. Earlier this summer, it tried to weasel out of a big chunk of its reunification responsibilities by asserting that it was the A.C.L.U.’s job to locate all of the parents who had been deported by the administration without their children. Once again, Judge Sabraw had to step in and call foul, ordering that the government coordinate with the A.C.L.U.
Complicating matters, the administration has decreed that reunifications must take place in the family’s country of origin. Which means that, once contacted, parents face an excruciating choice: give up their children’s asylum claims and have them returned home, or leave the children in the United States to try to navigate the asylum process on their own.” (M)

“The Trump administration wants to change how the government defines who is or is likely to become a “public charge.” The Department of Homeland Security released a draft regulation on Sept. 22, in which it proposed that any immigrant who is likely to use or who has already used Medicaid, public housing or a rent voucher, cash assistance or food stamps could be barred from the country or kept from getting permanent resident status.
The proposed rule change is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s hostility to immigrants. But it’s also about more than that. The administration would remake the idea of self-sufficiency, admitting only those who never need to turn to the public safety net, but instead rely solely on “their own capabilities” or the resources of their families and private charity. It even asserts that people who use public programs “in a relatively small amount or for a relatively short duration” are still considered dependent on the welfare state.
This redefinition of self-sufficiency ignores the way that most people use these programs. Even people with jobs often cycle on and off assistance as work comes and goes, or to plug the gaps when it just doesn’t pay enough. These programs allow people to remain healthy and solvent — supporting their independence. This rule therefore hurts everyone, not just immigrants, by stigmatizing the safety net funded by all of us to help people survive when they fall on hard times.” (N)

Coda:
“Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras…
Helen had been brought to Baytown, a shelter run by Baptist Child & Family Services, which the federal government had contracted to house unaccompanied minors…
..in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.
An uncounted number of separated children in shelters and foster care fall outside the lawsuit’s current purview—including many like Helen, who arrived with a grandparent or other guardian, rather than with a parent. Many such children have been misclassified, in government paperwork, as “unaccompanied minors,” due to a sloppy process that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General recently critiqued. Chavez believes that, through misclassification, many kids have largely disappeared from public view, and from official statistics, with the federal government showing little urgency to hasten reunifications…. “(O)

Next Episode:
The Trump administration is mulling plans to renew family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the number of migrant families entering the country illegally has skyrocketed in recent months.
One policy under consideration would be to give asylum-seeking parents a “binary choice” after spending 20 days in detention with their families: either stay in a detention center for months or years awaiting an immigration trial, or allow children to be taken to government shelters while other relatives try to seek custody for them. The Washington Post first reported that this option was being considered…
The option to give families a choice about staying together was endorsed by the Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union in a court filing in July. The motion stated that if a parent chose to stay with their children, the parent would waive the child’s “rights with regard to placement in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the minor’s age and special needs.” If a parent did not make any decision, the motion said that the government would keep the family detained together.” (P)

(A) Migrant Children in Search of Justice: A 2-Year-Old’s Day in Immigration Court, by Vivian Yee and Miriam Jordan, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/us/migrant-children-family-separation-court.html
(B) (B) More Than 200 Immigrant Children Remain Separated From Their Parents, by Jean Guerrero, https://www.kpbs.org/news/2018/oct/09/more-200-immigrant-children-remain-separated-their/
(C) (C) Top HHS official warned Trump administration against separating immigrant families, by Eliza Collins, Alan Gomez, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/07/31/trump-administration-official-warned-family-separations/874963002/
(D) (D) DHS not prepared for family separations under Trump zero tolerance policy, watchdog finds, by Pete Williams and Jacob Soboroff, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/dhs-not-prepared-family-separations-under-trump-zero-tolerance-policy-n915916(
(E) When ICE comes knocking, healthcare workers want to be prepared, by Tony Abraham, https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/when-ice-comes-knocking-healthcare-workers-want-to-be-prepared/531058/
(F) (F) Trump administration puts burden on ACLU to find deported parents separated from children, by Samantha Schmidt, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/08/03/trump-administration-puts-burden-on-aclu-to-find-deported-parents-separated-from-children/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d4c8f475919f
(G) Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City, by Caitlin Dickerson, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/30/us/migrant-children-tent-city-texas.html
(H) Hundreds of Children Rot in the Desert. End Trump’s Draconian Policies. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/opinion/migrant-children-tent-city-texas.html
(I) Thousands of foster children may be getting psychiatric drugs without safeguards, watchdog agency says, by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, https://www.statnews.com/2018/09/17/thousands-of-foster-children-may-be-getting-psychiatric-drugs-without-safeguards-watchdog-agency-says/?utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=fab0f6340f-MR_COPY_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-fab0f6340f-149527969
(J) Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever, by Mike Blake, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/12/us/migrant-children-detention.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&stream=top
(K) ICE arrested undocumented immigrants who came forward to take in undocumented children, by Tal Kopan, https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/20/politics/ice-arrested-immigrants-sponsor-children/index.html
(L) One sick immigration rule: The ‘public charge’ regulation will make America less healthy, by KENNETH L. DAVIS, http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-one-sick-immigration-rule-20181009-story.html
(M) The Continuing Tragedy of the Separated Children, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/30/opinion/family-separation-trump-zero-tolerance.html
(N) (N) Trump Wants to Turn the Safety Net Into a Trap, by By Bryce Covert, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/opinion/trump-wants-to-turn-the-safety-net-into-a-trap.html
(O) The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights, by Sarah Stillman, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-five-year-old-who-was-detained-at-the-border-and-convinced-to-sign-away-her-rights?mbid=nl_Daily%20101218&CNDID=50144682&utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20101218&utm_content=&spMailingID=14422852&spUserID=MjAxODUyNTc3Mjk4S0&spJobID=1500966416&spReportId=MTUwMDk2NjQxNgS2
(P) Trump administration considering new family separation policy for undocumented immigrants, by GRACE SEGERS, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-administration-considering-new-family-separation-policy-for-undocumented-immigrants/
(Q)

Prequels
..The HHS needs to review thousands of case files by hand for clues to which children were taken from their parents…

“Most immigrants facing deportation wouldn’t climb onto a table during their court hearings. But then again, most 3-year-olds don’t go to court without parents or lawyers.

“President Trump has moved on from caring about the migrant children in cages

“Only a dead heart is unstirred by the intentional infliction of suffering on children and babies as a weapon of deterrence.”

“In 6 Days, Trump Admin Reunited Only 6 Immigrant Children With Their Families”, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/in-6-days-trump-admin-reunited-only-6-immigrant-children-with-their-families/

“…the only way parents can quickly be reunited with their children is to drop their claims for asylum… and agree to be deported.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the government was starting to
“run out of space” to house people apprehended crossing the border

Trump’s policy “could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S.”, http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/trumps-policy-could-be-creating-thousands-of-immigrant-orphans-in-the-u-s/

Tender-Age Immigrant Children. “They need bilingual workers. Some kids speak indigenous languages, so that’s an issue as well. http://doctordidyouwashyourhands.com/2018/06/tender-age-immigrant-children-they-need-bilingual-workers-some-kids-speak-indigenous-languages-so-thats-an-issue-as-well/

“The idea of pulling a child out of a parent’s arms, or identifying a parent but still keeping them separate—it isn’t right.”

“The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is not a multimillion-dollar business. It’s a billion-dollar one…

“If it could happen to them…why can’t it happen to us?”…separating children from their parents,

“…Trump’s (family separation) policy amounts to “government-sanctioned child abuse.””,

“The Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border will have a dire impact on their health, both now and into the future.” (C)

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