Before Donald Trump signed his executive order to end the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents, a total of 2,300 immigrant kids were ripped away from their mom and dads and sent to detention centers all over the country. Now, the administration is reportedly not overly interested in reuniting those children with their biological parents.
A report from National Memo suggests there is “no coherent” plan for reuniting children.
On Thursday Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) posted a tweet in which he revealed that DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen privately told lawmakers that family separations at the border could continue for the time being.
Secretary Nielsen privately told lawmakers the Administration may go back to separating children from their parents. Congress must ensure that NEVER happens. I'm urging the House Appropriations Committee to prevent funds from ever being used to separate families entering the US: pic.twitter.com/JzZu58AUOf
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 21, 2018
His message was followed up by a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services who revealed that children who have already been separated would not be returned to their parents. The agency backtracked on that message later in the day, claiming the spokesperson had misspoken
Adding insult to injury, Trump on Thursday said families are likely to still be torn apart. His message was tweeted by Walter Shaub, the former Director for the Office of Government Ethics.
A Washington Post article has also discovered that locating missing children has become a headache for the Trump administration.
“It is shockingly difficult for immigration attorneys to locate children separated from their parents at the border. Today I spoke to lawyers who represent more than 400 parents,” said Kevin Sieff. “They’ve located two children.”
CNN further reports that current “policies place the onus on parents to find their children.”
It is also difficult to find a child’s parents once they have been deported. Wendy Young, president of the advocacy and legal support organization Kids in Need of Defense and an immigration policy expert, tells CNN that once deported, many parents lack access to a phone line and many are targeted for fleeing their unstable region.
Further, President Trump’s executive order may not be enforceable due to questions of its legality. If that’s the case and Trump refuses to back down from his “zero tolerance” policy, children could still be separated from their parents while being placed in temporary tent cities that are costing taxpayers $775 per child per night.