US Identifies 3,900 Children Separated At Border Under Trump
Speaker 1: 00:00 A five-year-old child was left alone this morning, along the border wall, near San Ysidro. That's according to us customs and border patrol agents who took the child identified as a Guatemala national to a border patrol facility, while children continue to come to the us without their parents, the Biden administration today announced it has accounted for 3,900 children separated as part of the Trump. Administration's zero tolerance policy on illegal crossings, legal learned, who is deputy director of the ACL use immigrants rights project is the lead attorney in the ongoing lawsuit to reunite these children with their families. He joins me now with more Lee welcome. Thanks for having me. There's a discrepancy with the count of children. The Biden administration says they're accounting for versus the original count of children. The ACL you identified in a prior lawsuit, what's the reason for this discrepancy? Speaker 2: 00:54 Well, so the reason is because the government has excluded for the time being parents, who they believe they have criminal histories. And so we have noted, and I don't think the government disputes, this, that there were more than 5,500 children separated and probably more we'll ultimately find out. But the government has said at least 3,900 are clearly fall within what they want to do with the settlement. And they're looking at the other 1700. We hope that they will conclude that those 1700 do not have the type of crimes that would prohibit them from engaging in this settlement. We don't think we have looked at that and we think that exclusion of the 1700 is wrong. We hope the government will ultimately reach that same conclusion and we're in negotiations with them about that. But that's the discrepancy Speaker 1: 01:41 Number of children. The Biden administration has identified how many have actually been reunited with their families or to illegal guard. Speaker 2: 01:49 So since the Biden administration took over only four families have been reunited, maybe five. At this point, as we're talking, we're hopeful that about three dozen more will be reunited in the next few weeks, but there's still a lot to go. And so, you know, ultimately it's good. The task force is up and running. The process seems to be up and running after a lot of negotiations with us, but there's a lot of work to be done. We believe between 1,002 thousand families need to come back. But beyond that, there are families who are already reunited that need help. They need mental health services. They need other types of social services. Most importantly, they need legal, permanent status. So they don't have to live in fear of being sent back to danger. They've already suffered enough trauma in our country, owes them this. At this point in the present, United States came out and said, this is in a storage and a stored moral stain on the United States. Given that I think we need to do everything possible to try and make these families whole to the extent that's possible. Speaker 1: 02:46 News also includes information about where the children are coming from mostly Guatemala. Uh, just this week, the vice-president was in Guatemala with a message to migrants, not to come to the U S what needs be done in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and elsewhere, that would STEM the flow of migrants coming to the U S Speaker 2: 03:06 Well, I think we always want to get at the root causes because people do not want to have to pick up and leave their home countries, not withstanding what the narrative may be. In some circles. People want a drag, their kids, thousands of miles to a foreign country and have to start their lives all over away from their families. But I think what's critical to understand about what the vice-president saying in Guatemala is that's the wrong message to be sending, because you have to say to people, if you're in danger, now our border is open. And so while we ultimately want the long-term solution of trying to get at the root cause in those countries, the immediate problem is that the Biden administration has retained a Trump administration policy of closing the border to families who are in desperate need of safe date. We can not with this country be out there saying, even if you're in danger, don't come. Speaker 2: 04:00 I mean, you note that the vice-president, didn't say if you're in danger come, but otherwise you need to wait until there may be a process for you. We need to be saying the border is open to asylum seekers. I mean, if the Biden administration continues to close the border of asylum seekers, we're talking about our sea change in American history. We have said after world war II, we would never close our borders to people fleeing danger. Trump administration did that, and now the Biden ministration has retained that. So I would have hoped the vice-president would have said right now, if you're in danger, you can come and get asylum. But unfortunately that's not the case. And the vice out there saying nobody should come. You know, there are still Speaker 1: 04:40 Nearly 400 children whose families have not been found. What can you tell us about where those children are now and how they're doing KCLU Speaker 2: 04:49 And a steering committee? We created have been looking for the separated families for years. We're down to the last 391. We're hoping we make more progress. The children are almost all in the U S we believe about two thirds of those parents are abroad. Maybe a third are in the United States. They're confident we will ultimately find those families. We're hoping that vitamin nutrition gives us more data. And with COVID receding in various places, we're hoping more on the ground. Searches can occur and we won't stop till we find those last Mandarin 91, we have found hundreds and hundreds of families, and we have gotten some or unified some still remain to be reunified, but we won't stop till we find every last child. Speaker 1: 05:31 As I mentioned, just this morning, a five-year-old was found along the border wall, near San Ysidro and more unaccompanied children are being seen in other States. Why are we seeing such an increase in cases where children are being found, wandering completely on their own? Speaker 2: 05:46 The Biden administration has exempted unaccompanied minors from the Trump administration's policy of what's called a title 42 policy of not allowing them in, but the binder has retained the policy with respect to families. So families are now making that agonizing choice of do I keep my child with me here in danger, or do I make this horrible decision to send my child alone? Because at least my child will be safe. So it's sort of this force self separation where children are coming by themselves. And beyond that, I think it's, there's been a backlog with the Trump administration with not allow children fleeing danger in for so long will ultimately get through that backlog. But in the meantime, the Biden administration needs to immediately repeal the title 42 policy because families are in real danger in Mexico, and we are not letting them in. We are not even giving them a hearing. They get no asylum hearing whatsoever. We were just saying a family's evil, small children. It doesn't matter how much danger you fled. You cannot have an asylum hearing that has to stop. I've Speaker 1: 06:51 Been speaking with legal orange, the deputy director of the ACL use immigrants rights project. We thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 2: 06:58 Thanks for having me and for shining a light on this issue.