Since the election of President Donald Trump, federal agencies across the nation have been increasing their efforts to curb illegal immigration. Nationwide reports indicate an uptick in the number of adults and children taken into custody by U.S. officials around the Mexican border.
In the past week, social media has erupted with outrage over reports about the treatment of immigrant children taken into custody. Hashtag movements including #WhereAreTheChildren and #MissingChildren have spread across multiple online platforms. These movements have spread after reports indicated that the federal government lost track of 1,475 immigrant children over the last year. These children had been resettled with an adult sponsor through the Health and Human Services, but they simply disappeared from the system over time. One brave senator, Rob Portman, brought this issue to the forefront by highlighting one devastating case where eight children were given over to human traffickers by federal officials.
On May 7th, the Justice Department confirmed that they will be prosecuting every person that illegally crosses the border. Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained in a speech that “If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you and that child will be separated from you.” Federal law now requires both unaccompanied children and children of detained adults to be transferred to the Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement within 48 hours.
This devastating practice of separating children from their families and then failing to properly care for them is heartbreaking. In many cases, the children being separated are less than two years old. The unprecedented policy was brought to light over the weekend as officials attempted to answer questions and dodge responsibility for the new reports.