Nearly 200 days past a federal judge’s reunification deadline, children kidnapped from families at the southern border under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy remain in U.S. custody, a new court filing shows. Six are “not eligible” for release, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff reports, while a much larger group of 87 children continue in custody because the Trump administration claims that either they weren’t separated from parent, or the parent is a danger to the child or declined reunification.
But we know that some children who were separated were traveling with another close relative, such as a grandparent. We also know that the administration has falsely accused parents, without providing any evidence whatsoever, of having gang affiliations, and we know that immigration officials coerced some parents into agreeing to their own deportation.
This doesn’t even include the potentially thousands of children who were separated before the “zero tolerance” policy was officially implemented. Government investigators say that, due to lousy tracking by the administration, we don’t know exactly how many were separated or where they ended up.
The new court filing comes as the new House Democratic majority will hold its first hearing on this humanitarian disaster. Thursday’s meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Ur Jaddou of DHS Watch, will “mark an end to the silence and secrecy surrounding Trump’s family separation policies.” The House Judiciary Committee is also set to hold a hearing on family separation next week. Department of Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen, who signed off on the policy, will testify before the House Homeland Security Committee next month.
“Americans still have searing images in their minds of desperate parents and children fleeing violence and the treatment they received from U.S. authorities,” Jaddou continued, “and this is the start of the accountability process to understand what’s happening, the damage being done, and how we may correct and prevent it in the future.”
Thursday, Feb. 7, marks 196 days past the federal judge’s reunification deadline. Family separation remains a crisis.