Immigration Latest: Dog-Sitting and Evasion — Trump Administration Avoids Questions Over Detained Children

Immigrant children in detention in Texas, June 2018

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:

“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.

A Reunion

In a contrasting positive image, a mother and daughter are reunited after almost two months:

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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