Outrage Emerges Over 1,475 Immigrant Children Being Lost Last Year From US Custody
Recent reports have emerged that nearly 1,500 immigrant children who were taken into US custody at the Southwest border were separated from their parents and then went missing.
It’s caused major outrage and criticism over how they’ve were treated with tweets escalating through linked hashtags of #WhereAreTheChildren and #MissingChildren.
There are many questions being asked around whether these allegations that have been made are true, whether the children have been treated fairly under the enforcement policies that Trump’s put in place and why there are is so much outrage about it now. Here’s a breakdown of how the story has unfolded.
Are the stories true about the immigrant children being lost?
Yes, the US had lost nearly 1,500 immigrant children that crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. It was confirmed by Steven Wagner, an official from the Department of Health and Human Services in a Senate hearing in April.
On a survey based on 7,000 children, the HHS confirmed that when they placed them with sponsors, 28 had run away, 5 were deported and a total of 52 lived somewhere else. The rest of the children were reported to be missing.
There have been claims that the majority of adult sponsors used by the HHS were relatives living in the U.S., and may have been intentionally protecting the children by not responding to HHS calls. The HHS confirmed that legally, it’s not their responsibility to find the missing children.
Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Rob Portman, believes the arguments and claims made by the HHS are all wrong.
He states, “We’ve got these kids. They’re here. They’re living on our soil, And for us to just, you know, assume someone else is going to take care of them and throw them to the wolves, which is what HHS was doing, is flat-out wrong. I don’t care what you think about immigration policy, it’s wrong.”
Is separating children and parents a way to discourage border crossings?
It seems so. There have been suggestions in reports that separating children and parents at the border is a way to put-off families from attempting to cross the border.
Back in April, there were memos sent by Senior immigration and border officials to the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen to increase prosecutions on those attempting to cross the border illegally so prevent further temptation in the future by migrants.
How have the government responded?
On May 11th there were suggestions made that this wouldn’t be a long-term solution for border control according to the White House chief of staff. When asked whether it was a “cruel and heartless” method used by border officials, Kelly replied, “I wouldn’t quite put it that way”.
He went on further to say “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”
Members of Congress have followed suit in expressing concerns with the policy. A signed letter was sent to Kirstjen Neilsen stating that the method in place “suggests a lack of understanding about the violence many families are fleeing in their home countries.”
In response, when Nielsen was questioned about the policy she denied that the policy was an act of preemption but instead that it’s purely a legal matter of breaking the U.S. law and that whoever does so should be prosecuted.
Why has the story only emerged now?
It was only in April that the story emerged about the missing children despite talks about cracking down on border control beginning early last year.
Regardless of timing, social media has exposed the story and it has continued to grow in the past week or so. Many may refer to a column shared in the USA today by columnist E.J. Montini to why the story drew attention.
Many celebrities and officials also used the hashtags mentioned earlier to spread the story and gain awareness of the issue.