The family separation crisis is far from over

For one thing:

Although the zero-tolerance policy was officially announced last month, it has been in effect, in more limited form, since at least last summer. Several months ago, as cases of family separation started surfacing across the country, immigrant-rights groups began calling for the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.), which is in charge of immigration enforcement and border security, to create procedures for tracking families after they are split up. At the time, D.H.S. said that it would address the problem, but there is no evidence that it actually did so. Erik Hanshew, a federal public defender in El Paso, told me that the problems begin at the moment of arrest. “Our client gets arrested with his or her child out in the field. Sometimes they go together at the initial processing, sometimes they get separated right then and there for separate processing,” he said. “When we ask the Border Patrol agents at detention hearings a few days after physical arrest about the information they’ve obtained in their investigation, they tell us that the only thing they know is that the person arrested was with a kid. They don’t seem to know gender, age, or name.”

Jennifer Podkul, who is the policy director of Kids in Need of Defense, told me that advocates are trying to piece together information about the whereabouts of children based on the federal charging documents used in the parent’s immigration case. “You can try to figure out where and when the child was apprehended based on that,” she said. “But where the child is being held often has nothing to do with where she and her parent were arrested. The kids get moved around to different facilities.”

The federal departments involved in dealing with separated families have institutional agendas that diverge. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—the agency at the D.H.S. that handles immigrant parents—is designed to deport people as rapidly as it can, while O.R.R.—the office within the Department of Health and Human Services (H.H.S.) that assumes custody of the kids—is designed to release children to sponsor or foster families in the U.S. Lately, O.R.R. has been moving more slowly than usual, which has resulted in parents getting deported before their children’s cases are resolved. There’s next to no coördination between D.H.S. and H.H.S. “ice detainees are not allowed to receive calls, so any calls need to be individually arranged,” Michelle Brané, of the Women’s Refugee Commission, told me. “A phone call is not a fix for separation. It is a call, often with a very young child. A call is a Band-Aid.” A number of lawyers that I’ve spoken with described personally pressuring individual deportation officers to delay a parent’s deportation until she can be reunified with her child or, failing that, until children and parents can be deported at roughly the same time.

Remember the fuss a couple of weeks ago over Samantha Bee’s use of the c-word? This was the point she had been making, about children being lost in the system by the federal government.

For another thing:

But like so much else in Trumpland, there is how something appears, and how something actually operates in reality. In the hours between the announcement of the order and its actual release, many hailed the change as an about-face—a stunning and rare pivot for a president who has little capacity to admit error. But now that the executive order is out, what is clear is that this document offers no fix at all. The Trump administration intends to trade the practice of separating children while it prosecutes parents for another kind of horror: locking up parents and children together. And, according to the executive order, this new incarceration of families could well be indefinite.

“This Administration will initiate proceedings to enforce…criminal provisions of the INA until and unless Congress directs otherwise,” the executive order lays out. “It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”


The practice of separating children from their parents is a symptom of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance policy” announced this spring. Under Sessions’s new rules, US attorneys now must criminally prosecute every person apprehended while attempting to enter the country between official ports of entry without proper documentation. But because many people come to the United States as families and because there are restrictions on how long children and parents may be held together, the government separated children from their parents, treating separated children as “unaccompanied minors.” The executive order does not affect that zero-tolerance policy at all; those prosecutions will continue.

Parents and babies are still going to be incarcerated while those prosecutions continue; it just appears that now they will be held together. And under the executive order, any public agency, including the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Defense—which would mean the federal prison system and military bases—must make its facilities available for the incarceration of these families.

What’s more, the executive order announces that the Trump administration intends to petition a court to revisit the landmark 1997 Flores settlement, which set forth minimum conditions for the treatment and detention of migrant children. The centerpiece of Flores requires that children be released from government custody as quickly as possible. Separately, it requires that those who are held have access to education, health care and recreation, and that they not be kept in confinement. The Trump administration wants to dismantle those minimum child-welfare protections so that it can, in the words of the executive order, “detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.”

But, because Flores is still current law, the Department of Homeland Security is still bound by it, and cannot detain children for longer than is absolutely necessary to find a placement for them outside of detention. Therefore, “this Executive Order is a restatement of current policy, which is to prosecute, detain, and quickly deport Central American asylum seekers,” says Kerri Talbot, legislative director for Immigration Hub, a DC-based, pro-immigration umbrella group.

The new executive order is no solution. It’s just another problem, as serious as before. Donald Trump has no idea what he’s doing, but he’s doing it anyway. There’s no cause to celebrate. Don’t let these guys off the hook.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in La Migra and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The family separation crisis is far from over

  1. Flypusher says:

    I’m waiting with baited breath to see how Bill decides to spin Trump’s flip-flipping, failure to back (or even read!) one of the GOP immigration bills, and lack of effort in lobbying the GOP Congress to pass one of the bills as bold, decisive leadership. Is it 53rd dimensional chess? Or just willful ignorance and extreme laziness?

  2. Bill Daniels says:


    There’s been a lot of acrimonious debate on this issue here so far. I want to know what your solution is. In other words, you are drafting the law to finally end this problem…..what is it?

    Most of the people coming in sin papeles are economic migrants. Low skilled women with young kids (the current focus) are going to have a difficult time being self sufficient here without long term welfare for both mother and kids.

    So, what’s the solution? Anyone who wants to come is free to come and stay? Will anyone be denied the right to live here? Are all these new immigrants entitled to the welfare and government entitlements that citizens are?

    How will we handle an unlimited flow of people into the US?

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Time to take back Texas one door at a time, with candidates like –

    Trump and his cult followers are destroying our country.

  4. Bill Daniels says:


    As I understand it, after some waffling, Trump has agreed to sign either the moderate or the conservative GOP bills. I think the waffling has a lot to do with Trump still dealing with the reality that dealing with Congress is like herding cats.

    From WaPo:

    ““The president fully supports both the Goodlatte bill and the House leadership bill,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said, referring to legislation drafted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and a separate compromise measure.”

  5. Flypusher says:

    Except now he’s saying forget it. He’s not even attempting to herd to cats.

  6. Flypusher says:

    I’ll put out one suggestion right now, since tiime is limited- let their relatives sponsor them. Yes, that chain-migration that the party of family values is now bashing. The recent immigrant groups with the reputation of being successful benefited from that practice. And if Melania can get her parents in, then citizen/ legal resident relatives of these recent migrants ought to have that same right.

    Exactly what welfare benefits are people without legal status getting right now?

  7. Manny Barrera says:

    Fly probably my last comment here, but just Bill Daniels what he is a paid troll, and leave it at.

  8. Manny Barrera says:

    Fly probably my last comment here, but just call Bill Daniels what he is, a paid troll, and leave it at that.

    Well I guess I misspoke above, choa (Spanish).

  9. Bill Daniels says:


    In the interest of brevity, how about we just start with free medical care.

    From Harris Health (AKA the county hospital district):

    There is No Fee for a Gold Card. If you are asked to pay for a Gold Card, please report this to 713­566­6277.

    Applying for Financial Assistance: Call (713) 566‐6509 to schedule an appointment or

    Mail to:
    HCHD Financial Assistance Program P.O. Box 300488
    Houston, TX 77230

    or Drop off to the nearest Eligibility Center
    Please provide copies of the following papers

    Identification (ID) (One for you and your spouse)
    State issued driver’s license, state issued ID card, current student ID with picture, current employee job badge with picture , passport with picture, U.S. Immigration documents with picture, credit card with picture, foreign consulate ID card with picture. If picture ID is not available, two of the following proofs may be used: birth certificate (not for married women), marriage license, social security card, other federal documents showing identity, hospital or birth records, adoption papers or records, voter’s registration card, current wage stubs, Medicare card or current Medicaid.

    Walk in to LBJ, Ben Taub, Quentin Meece, or any other HCHD facility, plunk down that consular matricula, and start getting free, quality health care. Not here legally, no problem.

  10. Jules says:

    Quoting a week old article about Trumps position on anything is just foolish

  11. Bill Daniels says:


    Trump is exemplifying Art of the Deal…..never be afraid to walk away. He doesn’t have Congress properly motivated at the moment. That can change.

    Also, from Kuff’s article in The Nation:

    “What’s missing from the executive order is an acknowledgement that the crisis was one of the Trump administration’s own making. No court order or law from Congress required these prosecutions, and it didn’t take an executive order to stop that practice.”

    If Congress didn’t want the laws they passed enforced, why did they write them? Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, and illegal reentry is a felony. Trump didn’t EO that, Congress enshrined it into law. All Trump really did here, was end the catch and release policy.

    The mother of the little girl on the Time magazine cover, for example, was deported once already, in 2013, making her crime of reentry, using a paid smuggler, by the way, a felony. Congress made it a felony, not Trump.

  12. Flypusher says:

    Of course you would spin his total lack of any leadership that way. Trump never had any intention of fixing this. This is the most prime cut of all the red meat for the base- feeding the xenophobia. He is good at stirring up troubles, I’ll give him that. This was absolutely unnecessary in terms of dealing with immigration issues. So roughly 1/3 approve and 2/3 are horrified and disgusted. The question will be who comes out to vote over it. I’ll be doing whatever I can with that 2/3.

    Also if you keep hanging Congress out to dry like that, you risk the epiphany when they finally realize that you will never negotiate in good faith, and they have nothing to lose in turning on you.

  13. Bill Daniels says:


    I disagree (of course). Kuff’s linked Think Progress article actually does a good job of laying this out. The old policy, catch and release, entailed releasing asylum claimants into our communities with case management, maybe an ankle monitor, and they correctly point out that that policy was not generating enough deportations fast enough.

    Trump is trying to staunch the flow of illegal aliens here, period. He ran on, and won on, reducing the total number of illegals here. Agree or disagree, but locking up everyone, including families, while they await deportation proceedings accomplishes that stated goal.

    Catch and release is absolutely no deterrent to new illegal aliens paying traffickers to come here. Can we agree that the purpose of that policy was to encourage more illegals to come here?

    I also disagree that you think Trump is not interested in solving this problem, permanently. Remember Bannon’s whiteboard with campaign promises on them? Bannon may be gone, but I have no doubt Trump is still trying to check off campaign promises as accomplished. Trump isn’t a politician, he doesn’t really like either the Pubs or the Dems, if truth be told. They both tried everything they could to stop him. There is no legacy for Trump in NOT solving this problem, with his 4 pillar plan. I know you disagree vehemently with his solution, but I honestly believe he wants to accomplish what he said he would do. He’s just wired that way, to win.

  14. Bill Daniels says:


    “And there is clearly an adamant, persistent segment of the public that sees the crisis of illegal immigration as a vital one. They’re not alone. Cast an eye at Brexit Britain, newly populist Italy, Macron’s France, and even Merkel’s Germany as it heaves in response to mass immigration from the developing world. This is a huge force in Western politics in every country. It may be the primary one. Millions of people are on the move right now, fleeing war and poverty and persecution. The vast migration from south to north, from poverty and chaos to opportunity and order in the West may be just beginning. Climate change will surely only make it worse. Finding the right balance between reason and compassion is essential if we are not going to further tear this country apart, or witness ever more humanitarian catastrophes, or see what’s left of the West go under.

    So give him his fucking wall. He won the election. He is owed this. It may never be completed; it may not work, as hoped. But it is now the only way to reassure a critical mass of Americans that mass immigration is under control, and the only way to make any progress under this president. And until the white working and middle classes are reassured, we will get nowhere.”

    The takeaway here is, these people have impecable anti-Trump, but even they realize which way the wind is blowing. “So give him his fucking wall.”

  15. Jules says:

    Build a billions of dollars environmental nightmare just to make a giant baby happy? No.

  16. Jules says:

    It’s disgusting that the answer to a humanitarian crisis is to build a wall to keep the suffering on the other side. Let’s spend billions an a wall that won’t work to prop up the shabby ego of a charlatan instead of using that money to help people.


  17. mollusk says:

    By treaty to which the US is a party, and by common decency, seeking asylum is NOT an illegal entry. To claim otherwise is disingenuous at best, if not an outright lie.

  18. Manny Barrera says:

    Trump supporters are the scumb of the earth, God will punish them, but this November let us work together to remove the infestation of Trump supporters.

  19. C.L. says:

    And we keep feeding Bill….

  20. voter_worker says:

    C. L.—Big T’s proclivity to drive people insane just for the hell of it seems to be the template for any discussion with any of his supporters. #nowallever

  21. Bill Daniels says:


    C’mon, I’m no longer baiting Manny, and I think I’ve been as respectful as I can be. I’ve referenced articles from non conservative sources, including Kuff’s own sources, and used them to back my position. How am I possibly trolling? You guys don’t get apoplectic when I agree with the consensus, or when the topic is absolutely apolitical, like the red light camera redux earlier.

  22. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill you assume to much credit for yourself, you are like the man that likes to fart because he enjoys the smell of his fart.

  23. Flypusher says:

    I just Goggled “Harris Health System Financial Assistance (Gold Card)”

    and found this bit of info:

    Interesting things to note:

    “Program Fees: If qualified for assistance, fees are based on household income, applicant may qualify for full or partial financial assistance including: full pay, half pay, co-pay, or no-pay.”

    So no, not necessarily free.

    “Documents Required:
    Valid photo ID or two non-photo ID (such as birth certificate, adoption papers, Harris County Voter Card, Social Security Card)federal document showing your name and address in Harris County, proof of marriage if married, proof of income for past 30 days, proof of address such as utility bill within last 60 days, school records for children, Proof of residency, proof of U.S. Citizenship. Details on required documents are listed on the application.”

    Notice those last 2 things on the list?

  24. Flypusher says:

    “So give him his fucking wall. He won the election. He is owed this. ”

    Your authoritarian slip is showing there Bill, and it is ugly. He is “owed” NOTHING. What he won was the opportunity to take his ideas and work with Congress to write them into law, the operative word there being “work”. Since this is not a monarchy, or a dictatorship (so far), or a one-party system, working with Congress means you are going to have to be prepared to talk with all sides, to be prepared to compromise with the opposition and give them something they want, to set your priorities, do some give and take, and realize that you’ll never get 100%. An Encyclopedia Britannica’s of ideas/promises on a white board mean exactly jack and squat if you can’t be troubled to do the work.

    Trump had a chance to get much of what he wanted. He was offered things like $ for more border security, ending the diversity visa lottery, and restricting the ability of former DACA recipients to sponsor family. He could have taken that in exchange for protecting the DREAMers, done a victory lap before his cult, and had one less issue the opposition could use to attack him. He even said that he was ready to sign whatever the Congress put before him, only to reverse course and break his word. You call that being willing to walk away; I call that negotiating in bad faith. Right now he is failing to lead because he won’t tell the Congress what he wants out of the current immigration bills up for a vote. I can be grateful that he is so lazy and incompetent and ignorant, because so far it’s hamstringing his ability to enact cruel policy, but that luck can’t hold forever. A Democratic Congress that he can’t bully would actually have a better change at immigration reform where everyone gets some of what they want, than the feckless, spineless sell-outs currently running it. They are so wedded to that abominable Hastert Rule that they will never solve this, unless maybe the GOP moderates who tried to ally with the Democrats realize that Ryan lied to them and try another discharge petition.

  25. Bill Daniels says:


    Here’s the actual APPLICATION for the Gold card. It lists “foreign consulate ID card” as acceptable to qualify for benefits, under the “and you need one proof with a picture on it.”
    It asks about immigration status, but doesn’t say that’s a deal breaker under section 5.

    Your link doesn’t list that, but your link is not an actual HCHD link.

    As to the quote about the wall, that’s from the source article…..written by a leftists, for a leftist news outlet. I’m just presenting what other leftists are saying.

    As to Paul Ryan, finally we agree on something. Dude needs to be booted out ASAP….he’s useless as tits on a boar hog. I can’t believe you are with me on that, because the way I see it, he and John McCain are the Democrats greatest allies in Congress.

  26. Bill Daniels says:


    One more point. You intimate that Trump had a chance for the wall and some of the other stuff, in a previous negotiation. Let’s not be disingenuous, OK? They offered a little money now, some later, some vague promises. No.

    Trump has been pretty clear about this. He wants the damn thing BUILT….NOW. Ronald Reagan trusted Tip O’Neil and the boys, back in the day that they would secure the border when he signed the ’86 amnesty. What happened? Apparently nothing, because here we are talking about the same thing again now.

    Bullshit future spending that can easily be stopped in the future? That isn’t what he wants. He wants a wall that, if the worst happens, and the open borders, globalist crowd takes over, it’s there, permanent and impenetrable.

  27. robert says:

    15-25 billion plus ongoing maint. If that money exists, why not use it on crumbling infrastructure, like he also promised??

  28. Flypusher says:

    “It asks about immigration status, but doesn’t say that’s a deal breaker under section 5.”

    Here’s exactly what it says: “5. Immigration Status for you, your husband or wife and all your children who depend on you for support
    You must show current or expired documents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

    So undocumented people would be asked for documents- “you MUST show..”. What part of “must” are you failing to understand here? I’m calling bullshit.

    “As to the quote about the wall, that’s from the source article…..written by a leftists, for a leftist news outlet. I’m just presenting what other leftists are saying.”

    And you figured everyone would just fall in line just because a lefty said it? Bad ideas are bad ideas, no matter who says then.

    “Trump has been pretty clear about this. He wants the damn thing BUILT….NOW. Ronald Reagan trusted Tip O’Neil and the boys, back in the day that they would secure the border when he signed the ’86 amnesty. What happened? Apparently nothing, because here we are talking about the same thing again now. “

    So you say don’t trust the Dems based on the actions of their predecessors over 30 years ago, but the guy with the long track record of deceit and fraud over that same time span, he’s totally on the up and up.

    “Bullshit future spending that can easily be stopped in the future? That isn’t what he wants. He wants a wall that, if the worst happens, and the open borders, globalist crowd takes over, it’s there, permanent and impenetrable.”

    Here’s the thing you people obsessed with the stupid wall keep forgetting- this is a dynamic and ever changing conflict. Put up a wall and the other side figures out how to go over it, go under it (there’s some very talented tunnel engineers in Mexico, in case you haven’t noticed), or go around it. The wall is single purpose, and cannot adapt. But if you had used that $ for things like more border patrol personnel, more aerial surveillance, expanding the Coast Guard, etc. guess what? Those resources are flexible and can adapt to a change in tactics on the other side.

    Does that mean that there aren’t places along the border where additional or upgraded fencing would work? No. There are places were that makes sense. But this overblown vision of a wall as Trump sells it is just another one of his cons, a money pit for taxpayers’ dollars that would primarily serve to pay tribute to his bloated ego.

  29. Manny Barrera says:

    They are taking money from the Coast Guard to use for land patrols.

    The government is complicit in bringing in drugs, we are opening up the oceans for them to do it. Create a scare at one location to use another to get it in.

    Republicans are very good at that remember, Iran Contra

    Wonder how many of those Republican donors make their money via drugs?

Comments are closed.