The Trump administration is not only going to separate immigrant children from their families, but they’ll be kept in warehouses on American military bases.
Roughly a week before Mother’s Day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced during a speech in Arizona that the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Border Patrol, will begin separating children from their families when captured at border crossings as a means of deterring other immigrant families from crossing the U.S. border.
“f you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions said during the address to law enforcement officers.
Even though the policy of separating families officially went into effect last week, the Trump administration has reportedly been separating children — including more than 100 under the age of four years old — from their families dating back to October, according to the New York Times. As Grit Post previously reported, one such case involves an 18-month-old baby who was kept from his mother for more than two months.
Now, the Washington Post is reporting that those immigrant children kept away from their families will now be stored in warehouses on U.S. military bases.
According to an email notification sent to Pentagon staffers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make site visits at four military installations in Texas and Arkansas during the next two weeks to evaluate their suitability for child shelters.
The bases would be used to hold minors under age 18 who arrive at the border without an adult relative or after the government has separated them from their parents. HHS is the government agency responsible for providing minors with foster care until another adult relative can assume custody.
The Wall Street Journal reports that under the new policy of separating children from their families, the children will be treated as if they arrived in the U.S. alone. Children who aren’t from Canada or Mexico will wait with their families for immigration courts to process their cases (which is typically a years-long process), while children from Canada or Mexico will be detained until the Department of Health and Human Services can find an adult relative to care for them, after which they will be put on a bus back across the border.
Many of the immigrant families crossing the U.S./Mexico border come from countries like Honduras and El Salvador, where government instability has created an environment rife with violence, kidnappings, and drug gangs run amok. A National Geographic report from Honduras showed that most gang members in the city of San Pedro Sula are under the age of 16. An Intercept report from January painted a picture of violence plaguing the community from the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs, as well as from police.
In March and April, the Trump administration arrested more than 100,000 people crossing the border, which is more arrests in any month since Trump took office.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.