Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar told CNN on June 10 that the Trump administration was acting generously toward the immigrant children whom it has jailed:
It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally.
Azar failed to mention the thousands of children who were separated from their parents and subsequently jailed.
Azar defended his failure to reunite the children with their parents — which he previously claimed could be done “within seconds” via computer — by painting a scary criminal narrative:
We could put children back with individuals who are murderers, kidnappers, rapists or are not their parents, but we’ve worked with the court to ensure that we do our duty, which is to protect child welfare and ensure that they are in fact that. I could release all of the kids by 10:55 p.m., but I don’t think you want that. I know the court doesn’t want that…
The remaining ones are children whose parents didn’t confirm to be parents. They were lying about being parents. They’re demonstrably unfit. We’ve got one alleged to be a murderer, one who’s a kidnapper, one rapist, one who’s a trafficker, one alleged by the child to be a child abuser.
We’ve got another 23 who are unavailable because they’re in Marshals Service custody or jails, or have been deported, and then, finally, another 25 where we have not yet completed the parent checks or the criminal background checks, or they had been released into the interior of the country.
And we continue to work very collaboratively with the court on all of these. Our central mission is protecting child welfare, while still reuniting families.
However, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez contradicted Azar’s dramatic claims on CNN:
That’s not the information I got. And I basically went straight to the coordinator of the entire Southwest Keys. And according to the information I got—and like I said, I’ve been there—they claim to be able to have all the information necessary and ready to go.
And for whatever reason, it had become somewhat out of their control as to how they go from here on out. So, there may be a miscommunication somewhere, but I felt like I got a good answer from the executive director of Southwest Keys in saying, “We’re ready to go and ready to move on.” But they just—they’re just waiting there in limbo.
Lomi Kriel, an immigration reporter for the Houston Chronicle, told Democracy Now that immigrant parents were not given any paperwork after the Trump administration snatched their children, but rather a 1-800 number that did not work:
[Paperwork on the children] didn’t come up in the hearing, but we know, just from other parents I’ve spoken to, they sometimes were just told their children were going to Texas or to Florida.
And sometimes they were given a 1-800 number for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is in charge of these immigrant children, but they complained that the 1-800 number didn’t—they couldn’t always get through on it, or that the agency often required a number to call back, which parents in detention often didn’t have. So, it was really difficult for them to find out the whereabouts of their children.
(Source: Democracy Now, Photo Credit: CNN)