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Trump DOJ: Lawyers suing us should find the parents of the kids we took

In a recent court filing, the Department of Justice wants to shirk responsibility for finding the parents of the children Trump kidnapped with his “zero tolerance” border policy.

By Dan Desai Martin - August 03, 2018
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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, June 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy resulted in thousands of children being ripped from their family members, and sometimes shipped across the country in the dead of night without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

And when it comes to reuniting hundreds of those children with parents who the Trump administration deported, the Department of Justice doesn’t want to be responsible for finding the parents.

In court documents, the Department of Justice wants the ACLU to take the lead in locating family members that the Trump administration deported without their children.

The ACLU disagrees. They argue that it was the government’s unconstitutional activities led to the separation crisis, and the government should bear the responsibility of reuniting children with their families. The ACLU said it is willing to help, but the government should bear ultimate responsibility.

The crisis continues because the Trump administration has yet to reunite all the kidnapped migrant children with their families. In April and May, the Trump administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, and intensified efforts to separate children from families at the border, even when those families were seeking asylum.

The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, initially lied about the practice, claiming in a statement released via Twitter that, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

Because of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the Trump administration was forced to reunite thousands of children with their family. After repeatedly missing deadlines, the Trump administration claimed it was done, despite the fact that hundreds of children remained separated from their families.

The ACLU continues to try to force the Trump administration to reunite all the children with their families, even if parents have been deported. But the Trump administration wants to shirk its responsibility, insisting the buck stops … somewhere else. In this case, with the people suing them, who had nothing to do with implementing family separations.

The Department of Justice and ACLU laid out their rationale in legal briefs, and a federal judge will meet with both parties on Friday afternoon to discuss the issue.

The Trump administration insists any parent who was deported was given the option to bring their children. But the ACLU vehemently disputes this claim.

“Some parents said they thought they were signing paperwork that would, in fact, allow them to reunite with their children, according to their immigration lawyers,” reports the Washington Post. Others signed whatever forms were put in front of them “out of fear, or confusion, or a belief that they had no other choice.”

Further, an administration official admitted to Politico that many parents left the country without their children, and the U.S. government has no documentation or record that they consented to leave their children behind.

In a recent congressional hearing, a Trump official from the Department of Health and Human Services testified under oath that there is “no question” that risks of separating children from families include “traumatic psychological injury to the child.”

Despite these risks, the Trump administration went forward with their policy, with the stated goals of both deterring other families from seeking refuge in the United States and using the pain of families as a bargaining chip for their political goals.

And despite the fact that hundreds of children remain at risk of traumatic psychological injury, the Trump administration wants to shirk responsibility for trying to rectify the damage they caused.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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