It’s becoming more and more clear that the Trump administration, under court order by a federal judge to urgently and safely release children detained with their parents at three migrant family jails one week from today at the latest, is instead seeking to rip them apart rather than humanely release them together.
“The US government told a federal judge late Thursday that immigrant families should not be released from custody more than a week after children were ordered released from ICE detention centers across the country, setting up scenarios in which they could be separated,” Hamed Aleaziz and Adolfo Flores of BuzzFeed News report.
While Judge Dolly Gee last month ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release the at least 139 children detained with their parents at three migrant family jails in Pennsylvania and Texas, she has no jurisdiction over the parents, leaving advocates to fear that federal immigration officials would instead use her order to separate more families beyond the thousands already torn apart by the Trump administration since 2017.
In court on Thursday for a separate lawsuit launched last March seeking the release of all detained families, ICE appeared to be setting course for that goal. “Attorneys for the Trump administration said the court should deny a motion for a preliminary injunction to promptly release all families in ICE detention,” BuzzFeed News continued. “Immigrant advocates said the government’s filing sets up a potential separation of children from their parents in custody should Judge James E. Boasberg agree.”
ICE has refused to quickly release detained families from Berks County Residential Center, Karnes County Residential Center, and South Texas Family Residential Center as COVID-19 has hit one of the facilities, just like advocates warned would happen. BuzzFeed News reports there are currently at least 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Karnes, up from the at least 11 initially reported last month.
Remember, ICE had previously “argued in court that children are safer from COVID-19 in custody,” the Los Angeles Times reported in May, a ridiculous claim that it continued to push this week in its ongoing refusal to release families. “The government said ICE has implemented measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and that the motion to immediately release families would fail to protect them from COVID-19,” BuzzFeed News said.
Bullshit. These facilities were already unfit for families way before this pandemic hit, and they’re only worse now. Trump officials themselves have been rendered speechless when pressed if they’d send their own kids there (answer: of course they wouldn’t). Families must be released together, but the administration appears set to want to continue one of the darkest and evil events in our nation’s modern history. So what can you do to help families? Get loud again:
“Parents will be forced to choose between separation and exposing their children to a deadly virus,” attorney Amy Maldonado told BuzzFeed News, “because the government refuses to release them unless the judge orders the families released together.”