Source: In These Times
The newest plank of immigration enforcement? Piling children into overcrowded detention centers.
Most mornings lately, I’ve woken up to two things. First I hear my toddler, sounding off that it’s time to get up. Then I see the news stories about other toddlers our immigration authorities ripped away from their parents.
For weeks, I’ve felt the gnawing need to write something, anything, about it. But God, where even to begin?
First, there are the stories. The Congolese asylum seeker who heard her six year old scream, “Don’t take me away from my mommy!” and couldn’t reach her. The woman forced to put her 18 month old in a car seat in an ICE van, the door slamming shut before she could even say goodbye. The man who hasn’t seen his son in six months.
Then there are the photos. The rows of children sleeping on thin mats behind chain-linked fences. The kids being led by guards to make phone calls, hands tied behind their backs. The prison van full of infant car seats.
These are just the earliest fruits of the Trump administration’s ghastly new pledge to prosecute every last undocumented immigrant who crosses our border. If immigrant parents have their children with them, the kids are seized and warehoused in some overflowing detention facility.
The New York Times counted over 700 kids who’d been separated from their parents this way from October to April. But in the first two weeks of May alone, authorities disclosed that they’d taken nearly 700 more—an astonishingly rapid increase. Already the warehouses are filling up, leaving authorities to prepare holding pens on military bases for the inevitable overflow. The ACLU puts the second wave at 1,000 over five weeks.
In theory, the children should be released to other family members within 72 hours. But with the administration essentially threatening to deport any undocumented caretakers who come forth to claim them, more and more children are languishing in cells for months. NBC reported recently that over half the kids currently detained had been held past the limit, and that half of those were under 12.