miércoles, noviembre 28, 2018

Más de 14.000 niños inmigrantes están bajo custodia de los Estados Unidos, un récord histórico.

Tal Kopan *,

The number of undocumented immigrant children in government custody has topped 14,000 for the first time, a rise that shows no signs of slowing as the Trump administration enforces policies that are keeping them in government facilities longer.

Editorial del San Francisco Chronicle: 
Ataques injustos de la administración de Trump contra inmigrantes legales.

Aerial view of the tent city at the Marcelino Serna Port of Entry in September in Tornillo, Texas.
Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre / Ivan Pierre Aguirre Sanders/Wingo

There were 14,056 unaccompanied immigrant minors in Department of Health and Human Services custody on Friday, according to a government source familiar with the number. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that the total had reached approximately 14,000.

That number tops records set just two months ago, putting further strain on an already overburdened system.

The issue of immigrant children in government custody gained widespread attention in the spring and summer when the Trump administration separated thousands of families at the southern border. Almost all those separated children have since left Health and Human Services care, but the total number of children in the system has steadily grown.

The reason is that children who arrive unaccompanied in the U.S. are spending more time in holding facilities before they can be released to suitable adults, often family members. One change that has especially slowed that down is an agreement Health and Human Services signed earlier this year for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to do background checks on potential sponsors.

ICE confirmed in September that it had used that information to arrest undocumented adults who came forward to take custody of children. Previous administrations didn’t look into people’s immigration status when deciding whether to release children into their care, but that changed under President Trump.

The Health and Human Services care system was intended to be a temporary bridge for often-traumatized children into a more stable home while they sought legal status in the U.S. But the Trump administration changed course, declaring that no undocumented immigrant was off limits from potential arrest and deportation.
One result has been an increase in children in custody beyond what the network of shelters across the country can accommodate. Health and Human Services has opened tent facilities in Texas that can house thousands more children.
The revelation that ICE was arresting undocumented potential sponsors of children has prompted legislation to try to block the practice.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, co-sponsored a bill this week that would bar the government from using information it collects in the process of resettling children to arrest immigrants. It would also divert funding from ICE to pay for Health and Human Services care.

“Right now, unaccompanied children are being held in detention facilities or living in tent cities due in part to potential sponsors’ fear of retribution from ICE for coming forward,” Harris said in a statement. “This is an unacceptable obstacle to getting these children into a safe home, and we must fix it.”

Health and Human Services spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer attributed the growing number of children in custody to a “crisis at the border” and “broken immigration system.”

“Their ages and the hazardous journey they take make unaccompanied alien children vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse,” Stauffer said. “That is why HHS joins the president in calling on Congress to reform this broken system.”

*Tal Kopan is the San Francisco Chronicle Washington Correspondent. Email: tal.kopan@sfchronicle.com Twitter @talkopan


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