Pause on that number: 148 days.
That’s how long more than 100 kids and their families have now endured the immediate impact of Trump’s family separation policy.
Kids still separated from their families:
As of Sept. 27: 136 — 3 under age five
Of those, separated because the US government deported their parents without them:
As of Sept. 27: 96 — 2 are under five
How much of the gradual improvement in the numbers results from kids aging out of the key statistics by celebrating their 18th (or 5th) birthdays in captivity? The government isn’t saying.
How much residual damage will the original group of almost 3,000 kids suffer for the rest of their lives? The government has no idea. But psychologists agree it’s a lot.
The Tip of a Bigger Iceberg
Trump’s family separation policy is part of larger approach that gets uglier by the day, especially as it relates to kids. From The New York Times on Sept. 30:
“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 South 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.
“These midnight voyages are playing out across the country, as the federal government struggles to find room for more than 13,000 detained migrant children — the largest population ever — whose numbers have increased more than fivefold since last year.”
In The Dead of Night?
In an Oct. 1 follow-up article, the Times explains why these moves are occurring when the rest of the country sleeps:
“To avoid escape attempts… The children are told of the move only a few hours prior so that they do not have time to formulate an escape plan.”
The Times poses more questions with tragic answers:
“If they were already in shelters, why are they being moved?
“The shelters that are traditionally used to detain unaccompanied minors are overflowing.”
“How do the two types of facilities compare?
“The shelters are licensed and monitored by state child welfare agencies that impose requirements on staff hiring and training, as well as education and safety. Children in shelters receive regular schooling and are required to have access to lawyers who help develop their claims for asylum or other forms of legal immigration status.
“Conversely, the tent city is considered an “emergency shelter” and is thus unregulated, except for a loose set of guidelines crafted by the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees it. The guidelines do not require schooling, so children are given workbooks but are not obligated to fill them out. Access to legal services at the tent city is also limited.”
“Why is the population of detained migrant children skyrocketing?
“More than 13,000 migrant children are currently detained — the highest number yet and a fivefold increase since last year. That is mostly because fewer children are being released to live with sponsors than ever before. Sponsors — usually relatives or family friends — tend to be undocumented immigrants, and policies introduced by the Trump administration have made it easier for immigration authorities to find and arrest potential sponsors who come forward to claim a child. As a result, some potential sponsors have stopped coming forward out of fear. Those who come forward anyway are having to wait longer because of added red tape.”
“How much does it cost to care for the children?
“The latest estimates from Congress suggest that it costs about $750 a day to house a child in the tent city — about three times as much as the cost of a single placement in a shelter — even though conditions there are comparatively austere.”
Savvy businessman, that Trump.
One of the darkest chapters in American history continues to play out in plain sight, but sometimes the worst acts are occurring in the dead of night.