The Trump administration said it “has spent $80 million to care for and reunite migrant children” stolen from parents at the southern border due to the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, the New York Times reports. “The first official price tag on family separations which ended abruptly in June in the face of widespread public opposition—comes to about $30,000 per child.”
Except family separation at the southern border has never really ended. Nearly 120 days past a federal judge’s deadline, separated migrant children continue to remain in U.S. custody, meaning the bill for this inhumane and criminal policy will only continue to get higher—and guess who’s going to foot it?
“Taxpayers should never have been forced to foot the bill for Donald Trump's family separation policy—let alone have that money taken from programs like Head Start, HIV/AIDS treatment, and cancer research,” tweeted Congress member Rosa DeLauro, referencing the administration funneling millions from vital programs to fund mass deportation. “That is outrageous.”
But no one should be paying for this policy, because it should have never happened in the first place, and because of the administration’s criminal acts, some kids may never see deported parents again. “A variety of volunteers and nongovernment organizations working with the federal government have been trolling through remote parts of Central America to try to find the parents—11 of whom have not yet been located,” the New York Times continued.
The fees from state-sanctioned kidnapping can be totaled on a spreadsheet, but what isn’t so simple to add up is the trauma kids have suffered. “Children who have a consistent, positive relationship with their primary caregiver tend to become healthy, happy, engaged and productive members of society,” writes Stephanie Carnes, a bilingual licensed clinical social worker. “Children whose attachment has been ruptured often become mistrusting, fearful, angry and emotionally volatile adults.”
In one family reunification this past August, a three-year-old boy was reunited with his mom and dad for the first time in three months, but it was like he was seeing strangers. “I’m your mommy, sweetheart, I’m your mommy,” she cried as the boy squirmed out of her arms. She turned, weeping to her husband: “Ever, what’s wrong with my son?” Her husband, Ever, holding their 5-month-old daughter, said nothing as the boy crawled to a wall, turned around, and looked at his mom with no expression.
“It’s now been five months since the court issued the injunction and still there are many children sitting by themselves in government facilities,” said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sued to reunite families. “Unfortunately, there’s still a lot more work to do to reunify all the children, and then we will need to get these families medical help to deal with the trauma caused by the separation.”