TrumpWatch, Day 561: Administration — Not Our Job to Reunite Immigrant Children with Parents

Immigrant children in detention in Texas, June 2018

The Trump Administration says it is not responsible for the reuniting of 572 children, still detained after months, with their undocumented immigrant parents.

The Administration, in a court filing on Friday, said that it is not under the burden of gathering data, establishing contact, determining a desire for reunions, and working with attorneys.

Instead, it said the American Civil Liberties Union, which has brought a lawsuit on behalf of some of the families, should carry out the tasks — including contact with parents who have been deported while their children remain in US detention centers.

Plaintiffs’ counsels should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that Defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries.

US District Judge Dana Sabraw, who issued an order on June 26 giving the Government 30 days to reunite families, rejected the motion, saying the Administration separated children and parents in the first place:

The reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the Administration. The Government has the sole burden and responsibility and obligation to make [reunifications] happen.

Sabraw chided officials for moving so slowly to track down deported parents, asking if it was true that only about a dozen mothers and fathers have been found in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

He called on the State Department and Department of Health and Human Services to take charge, citing HHS’s appointment of Jonathan White to reunite the first group of separated families:

What is absolutely essential … is that the government identify a single person of the same talent and energy and enthusiasm and can-do spirit as Commander White to head up the reunification process of the remaining parents. There has to be someone to hold to account and to supervise the entire process.

Almost 800 children of more than 2,800 seized under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy are still in detention. The Administration says that it has deported almost 500 parents, and that others are incarcerated, unfit, or pose a health and safety risk to their offspring.

Judge to Administration: Restore “Dreamers” Program

A federal judge rules that the Trump Administration must fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

In a 25-page opinion, Judge John Bates said the White House again failed to provide justification for its proposal to end DACA, under which almost 800,000 “Dreamers” — who came to the US as children with undocumented immigrant parents — have been able to study and work without fear of deportation.

In September 2017, Donald Trump said he was ending the program in March unless Congress gave him a legislative package with all of his hard-line immigration proposals. Courts prevented the suspension.

Bates said Trump’s order was “arbitrary and capricious” with a legal judgment that was “inadequately explained”.

The judge said he will delay his ruling for 20 days so the Administration can “determine whether it intends to appeal the Court’s decision and, if so, to seek a stay pending appeal”.


Administration Trying to Strip Palestinians of Refugee Status

The Administration is trying to strip refugee status from millions of Palestinian refugees.

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor, is seeking to end UNRWA, the UN agency which has provided assistance for Palestinians since 1949.

Kushner wrote in an e-mail toother Trump officials, including Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt:

It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace….

Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are….Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.

Many pro-Israel activists in the US believe that UNRWA has maintained hopes among Palestinians, many of whom lost their homes when Israel was established in 1948, that they might return home someday. The activists oppose the granting of refugee status not just to those who were displaced but to their descendants, leading to a refugee population of about 5 million.

Kushner and Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, proposed in January that the ending of US funds for UNRWA. The State Department, Pentagon, and US intelligence community opposed the idea, fearing that it could fuel violence in the region.

However, the State Department announced the following week that that the US installment of $125 million to UNRWA would be cut to $60 million.

In June, Kushner pressed Jordan to strip more than 2 million registered Palestinians of refugee status.the

“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, told reporters that Kushner’s delegation said it was ready to stop funding UNRWA altogether and direct the $300 million each year to Jordan and other countries where refugees live.


Report: Trump Election Commission Found No Evidence of Significant Voter Fraud

A commission set up by Donald Trump, after his claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, found no evidence of voter fraud, according to a former member.

Matthew Dunlap said, “I have reviewed the Commission documents made available to me and they do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud.”

Dunlap, Maine’s Democratic Secretary of State, offered his summary in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the vice-chair of the commission, Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Trump, irritated that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016, has repeatedly made his unsupported claim of mass voter fraud for the Democrats — for example, by busing people into New Hampshire, where Clinton narrowly won. He named Kabach, a loud proponent of voter fraud theories who has made large sums of money by advising states to set up anti-fraud systems, to lead the inquiry.

Trump dissolved the commission in January, claiming there was evidence of “substantial” voter fraud.

Dunlap said the assertion is false: “There is no single document that reveals there is no widespread voter fraud. [But] I rely on the lack of any evidence in the totality of what I reviewed.”

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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