Cold as ICE: Family Separation Continues

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The New Yorker obtained video of “visitation” between mother and child. 

Minnesota is frozen down at so-far-below-zero-that-numbers-don’t-matter, with schools and offices closed, and even postal delivery halted. In Washington, Congress is moving at a glacial pace. Today’s news includes stories of cold-hearted immigration policies in action, including two recent child separation stories. 

Sindy fled Honduras in October with her partner and three children, after gang members came to their house and threatened to kill her. In Mexico, the family became separated when Mexican authorities attacked a group of migrants trying to get on the train called La Bestia. Kevin and the baby, 18-month-old Grethshell made it onto the train, but Sindy and the two older children did not. When Kevin and Grethshell got to the United States, immigration authorities charged him with illegal entry and  took his daughter away from him. When Sindy and the other two children arrived, they were sent to an hielera, where Guatemalan women told her they had seen her husband and baby. Their saga is detailed in a dramatic New Yorker article. Just yesterday, overcoming financial barriers and red tape, Sindy was finally reunited with Grethshell: Kevin remains in jail, fighting deportation.

“Mr. A”  fled El Salvador after gangs threatened to kill his children. Then U.S. immigration officials took them away, and accused him of being a member of the MS-13 gang. Immigration officials denied his asylum claim, and his lawyers are appealing that denial. Reveal reports on his case:

“They didn’t show him any evidence to back up their claim. Mr. A denied he was ever part of the group and stripped off his clothes to prove he wasn’t hiding any gang-related tattoos….

“He hasn’t seen [his children] in the nearly three months since, even though the government hasn’t offered any proof of his gang membership. Mr. A’s lawyers have compiled a stack of evidence to the contrary….

“Court records provide a detailed account of his case. In April, gang members began threatening Mr. A and gave him a choice: Pay $1,300 or his children would die. Mr. A moved his family to another city in El Salvador on Oct. 7. But the threats continued.

“They told me to think about my children,” Mr. A told an asylum officer, according to a transcript of the interview the government conducts to establish whether someone has a “credible fear” of returning to his or her home country. He reported the threats to the authorities in El Salvador, but a prosecutor told him officials couldn’t help without the names of the gang members.”

Meanwhile, federal spending on immigration enforcement continues to escalate, generating huge profits for private prison companies.

“Federal contract spending for immigration enforcement and processing surged nearly 40 percent over the past four fiscal years with two of the top earners being private prison companies that have faced multiple allegations of inhumane treatment of migrants.

“Total spending in fiscal 2018 was $7.4 billion compared with $5.3 billion spent four years ago. CoreCivic Inc. and the GEO Group Inc., which provide detention services, migrant transportation, and other services, received boosts of $85 million and $121 million respectively over the four-year period, a Bloomberg Government analysis of contract data from the U.S. General Services Administration shows.”

Family separation does not make the United States safer. Private prisons do not make the United States safer. Immigration does not pose a security crisis at teh border. As AILA Executive Director Ben Johnson explains:

What we now face at the border is not a crisis of security, but a failure of management. The nature of migration to the border has been changing for years. Fewer migrants are coming overall, but those who do are coming for different reasons than before. There are far fewer lone men from Mexico seeking jobs and more women and children from Central America seeking humanitarian protection.

“And yet our approach to managing this new situation remains stuck in the past. Rather than enhance our capacity to deal with asylum-seekers at the border, we continue ramping up the same detention-and-deportation machine in use for decades. This failure to address the changing nature of a problem that is actually getting smaller is not a “security crisis”; it’s poor management.”

 

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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