Democratic lawmakers have harsh criticized the evasiveness of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a Friday phone call about the Trump administration’s detention of children separated from undocumented immigrant parents.
Azar had two calls, one with senators and one with House representatives. He reportedly answered few questions before quickly departing.
The Democrat legislators were scathing:
Just got off the phone w/ HHS. I am furious&horrified after immigration conference call – virtually no separated children have been reunified; no system, no plan, no path to assure reunification; no answers to key questions. Strategy seems to be: blame everyone else.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) July 6, 2018
Just got off a conference call with HHS about reuniting kids with their parents. They read from a script for around 20 minutes and then they took only 3 questions from Senators. It was Orwellian in its overconfidence and vagueness. I am more, not less worried for these kids.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) July 6, 2018
On a call with @HHSGov's @SecAzar today it was not easy to get answers, but one thing was crystal clear: the administration implemented their zero-tolerance family separation policy with essentially NO PLAN in place to reunite children with their parents. https://t.co/8x0BbCZ0jc
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) July 6, 2018
Just got off a “Senators Only” conference call with @SecAzar about the border fiasco they created. It was a farce of pure propaganda and no substitute for real Congressional oversight. Only 3 Senators got to ask questions and by that time @SecAzar was gone. We need real answers.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) July 6, 2018
Today, I had a call with HHS and am extremely disappointed with the lack of information they gave to Members of Congress. They refuse to answer our questions. They do not have a concrete plan to reunite these families. I am growing more concerned for the future of these children.
— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) July 6, 2018
“I’m Dog-Sitting”: Justice Department Lawyer Asks for Delay in Implementation of Reunion Order
Justice Department lawyers have asked for delay in implementation of a court order to reunite immigrant children and parents.
On 26 June, a federal judge in California, Dana Sabraw, gave the Administration 14 days for children under 5 to be reunited, and 30 days for older juveniles.
In one hearing, a Government attorney said he needed additional time because he is dog-sitting for friends in Colorado this weekend.
At a status conference in San Diego other attorneys said the deadline was ambitious because the parents of more than 100 toddlers are scattered across the country.
A Justice Department lawyer said the Government has now matched up 83 of the toddlers with fathers and mothers, but cannot establish ties for another 19.
In 19 cases, parents have already been deported, Sarah Fabian said.
But the process is likely to take longer for the dozens of parents who are not in government custody. Nineteen parents of the youngest group of children have already been deported, 19 have been released from immigration custody into the United States, and two have been found to be unfit based on past criminal history. Fabian cautioned that those numbers were approximate and could be “in flux” over the coming days.
Judge Sabraw directed the Government to provide more information over the weekend and scheduled a Monday morning hearing: “But no one can make any informed decision, including the court, without additional information.”
Parents says they have not been information about how reunifications will take place. Three said this week in a lawsuit that the Government has failed to provide the information after requests to do so.
Lawyer: Children Dosed with Psychiatric Drugs
Attorney Leecia Welch says children detained at the Shiloh Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas have been so heavily dosed with psychiatric drugs that they fall asleep at classroom desks for hours at a time.
The drugs are purportedly administered to treat depression and anxiety.
Lawyers and educators say instruction at the facilities is uneven and inadequate for some children. Teachers at the schools are sometimes not state-certified. Some cannot communicate effectively in Spanish, and curriculum is often limited with classes spread widely across age groups.
Daniela Marisol, a 16-year-old migrant from Honduras, has not been able to participate in classes because she is partly deaf and has not received hearing aids since last August.
In a contrasting positive image, a mother and daughter are reunited after almost two months:
Watch Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia and her 8-year-old daughter reunite at Boston's Logan Airport in a CNN exclusive report. Gonzalez-Garcia and her child were separated in Arizona for 55 days after fleeing Guatemala for the US, citing domestic violence at home https://t.co/H6wqeX6Yau pic.twitter.com/5MCaViGC3z
— CNN (@CNN) July 6, 2018