The Trump White House said Thursday that approximately half of the children ages 5 and under who were separated from grown-ups at the U.S. and Mexico border can’t be reunited with their parents, essentially because many of the adults are violent criminals – and some lied about being the minors’ parents.
- President Trump tweeted this week that Democrats in Congress should help stop illegal immigrants gain entry to the U.S. by bringing children with them
- ‘Traffickers know how it works,’ Trump claimed; ‘They are just using children!’
- Homeland Security Department has cited ‘many instances where human traffickers have used children to cross the border to gain illegal entry’
- Now DOJ and DHS say 46 of the 103 children in custody who are under 5 years old wouldn’t be safe with the adults who brought them across the border
- Some weren’t actually their parents; others are in prison for kidnapping, child abuse or murder; another is wanted for murder in Guatemala
- Still, others gave phony birth certificates or planned to house a child with a known child sex abuser
- A dozen were deported but declined to take their children with them
President Trump had claimed Tuesday that illegal immigrants and human traffickers were ‘using children’ to manipulate America’s immigration system and make it easier for adults to enter the U.S. without papers and remain there.
Of the 103 minors in the youngest age group, the administration has reunited 57 with parents, but the other 46 are ‘ineligible,’ the Justice and Homeland Security Departments reported.
Eleven of the adults have ‘serious criminal histor[ies],’ the agencies announced, including charges or convictions for child cruelty, kidnapping, murder, human smuggling, domestic violence and narcotics-related crime.
One of the men is wanted for murder in Guatemala, Chris Meekins, Chief of Staff, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services told reporters on a conference call.
Seven more were ‘determined not to be a parent’ at all, including three whose deception was discovered through DNA testing.
Meekins described one adult who said he was a parent ‘right up until the time of a DNA swab,’ and then retracted his claim.
Authorities determined that one potential child sponsor was alleged to have abused the child he was trying to claim.
Another told the government that if his child were returned to him, he planned to house the youngster with an adult who has been charged with sex abuse of a young girl.
Eleven are in state or federal custody for other reasons.
One of the adults presented a falsified birth certificate, and another has a contagious disease.
Twelve have already been deported.
‘We don’t have the legal authority to bring those individuals back into the country for reunification purposes,’ Meekins said Thursday. ‘They have no lawful right to be here.’
He also said those people had already been offered the opportunity to take the children with them when they were deported, and declined.
The shocking statistics will heap fuel on Trump’s fiery argument that his political foes should adopt a more flexible approach to changing immigration law.
Meekins declined to say during the conference call how many violent criminals and fake parental claims are among the larger group of people claiming children between the ages of 5 and 17.
Information about those children is expected to be released to a federal judge later in the day.
CABINET SECRETARIES WEIGH IN
HHS Secretary Alex Azar, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a joint statement on Thursday:
‘Dedicated teams at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of Ms. L class members. As of this morning, the initial reunifications were completed. Throughout the reunification process, our goal has been the well-being of the children and returning them to a safe environment. Our agencies’ careful vetting procedures helped prevent the reunification of children with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child. Of course, there remains a tremendous amount of hard work and similar obstacles facing our teams in reuniting the remaining families. The Trump administration does not approach this mission lightly, and we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families.
‘Certain facts remain: The American people gave this administration a mandate to end the lawlessness at the border, and President Trump is keeping his promise to do exactly that. Our message has been clear all along: Do not risk your own life or the life of your child by attempting to enter the United States illegally. Apply lawfully and wait your turn.
‘The American immigration system is the most generous in the world, but we are a nation of laws and we intend to continue enforcing those laws. Establishing the immigration system demanded of our political leaders by the American people for more than 30 years – one that serves the national interest – will allow our nation to further realize the foundation of freedom, safety, and prosperity we inherited from our Founders.’
‘Our agencies’ careful vetting procedures helped prevent the reunification of children with an alleged murderer, an adult convicted of child cruelty, and adults determined not to be the parent of the child,’ a trip of Trump cabinet secretaries said in a joint statement.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions added that ‘we intend to continue our good faith efforts to reunify families.’
Trump tweeted Tuesday that ‘Democrats in Congress must no longer Obstruct – vote to fix our terrible Immigration Laws now. I am watching what is going on from Europe – it would be soooo simple to fix.’
‘Judges run the system and illegals and traffickers know how it works,’ he claimed. ‘They are just using children!’
Federal Judge Dana Sabraw showed no patience with the administration on Tuesday, declaring that federal agencies had to provide good reasons for not reunifying every family.
‘These are firm deadlines. They’re not aspirational goals,’ Sabraw said.
The president’s accusations this week came as his administration was struggling to meet court-ordered deadlines for reuniting thousands of minors with the grown-ups – often, but not always their parents – who jumped the U.S.-Mexico border with them.
As a caravan of asylum seekers made its way from Central America to the U.S. in April, the Department of Homeland Security expressed skepticism that all the children traveling with it were related to the adults.
‘Unfortunately, we have seen many instances where human traffickers have used children to cross the border to gain illegal entry to our country, as they know they are unlikely to be detained,’ DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said then.
‘This is one of the very loopholes we would like to see Congress end in order to gain operational control of our border.’
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