Government Refuses to Disclose Number of Children Still in Custody

As the court mandated deadline looms for reuniting children under the age of 5 with their parents, the government has refused to disclose how many children remain in custody.

Last week, a federal judge in San Diego ruled that the federal government had to reunite all immigrant children separated from their parents within 30 days and all children under the age of 5 within 14 days.

With only six days remaining before the July 10 deadline, the government is refusing to tell the public just how many children remain in custody.

As of last week, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar reported that 2,047 minors were still in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

The administration has not released any updated figures since then.

Even as the White House refuses to conduct itself with transparency, another federal judge has ruled that the administration cannot arbitrarily detain asylum seekers.

In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights First, and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, the judge declared that any asylum seeker who has passed a credible fear interview should be given “humanitarian parole” rather than indefinite detention.

As wonderful as the decision sounds at first, there are some issues.

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the threats of gang and domestic violence would no longer be considered as “credible fear” claims.

Gang violence and domestic assault are two of the most common factors motivating people from South America to flee their countries and seek asylum elsewhere.

Our very own president has acknowledged and even exaggerated the danger posed by the international gang MS13 even as his attorney general says that people running from MS13 aren’t valid asylum seekers.

In many ways, the logic surrounding asylum and refugee status parallels conservative logic as it relates to the question of abortion.

Conservatives don’t want women to get abortions, but they refuse to provide them with the contraception tools that will prevent the need for an abortion in the first place.

Similarly, conservatives recognize MS13 as a threat and don’t want its members in our country, but refuse to grant sanctuary to the people who are being killed by MS13.

So even though this federal judge has said that asylum seekers can’t be detained arbitrarily, all the government needs to do is get rid of any and all valid reasons for someone to seek asylum in the first place and they will be able to legally detain anyone for as long as they like.

And they’ve already begun.

To read our original coverage of Sessions’ decision to revoke violence-based claims for asylum, click here.


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