The Associated Press released an investigative report uncovering loopholes that allow the children of deported migrants to be adopted by U.S. families.
The most horrific part? The government is not even required to notify the biological parents.
The loophole in the system extends to the children of immigrants who were separated at the border under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy; as of September 14, 400 children still remained in detention as a result of the policy.
Sadly, the AP discovered that the practice of granting custody over immigrant children to U.S. parents extends back to 2015 under the Obama administration.
They traced the story of a girl named Alexa, who was separated from her mother at age 2 and who was placed under the guardianship of a couple living in the U.S. after a judge ruled in their favor.
Like so many others, she and her mother were fleeing domestic abuse and death threats in their home country of El Salvador.
The AP asked the State Department as well as the embassies in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to see if any of them were working cooperatively to locate and reunite deported parents with their children.
The answer was neither comforting nor unexpected.
“DHS is not aware of anyone contacting embassy or consulate in a foreign country to be reunified with a child. This is unsurprising given the fact that these parents made a knowing decision to leave their child in a foreign country.” — Department of Homeland Security
There is some misinformation in this statement, however, as many parents have testified that the way in which they were asked whether or not they wanted to leave their child in the U.S. was misleading, and that often times the question was posed in English — a language many immigrants cannot read or understand.
In essence, very few parents actually made that decision with the benefit of complete information.
And in truth, this insidious practice extends back much further than 2015.
When the U.S. was trying to forcibly assimilate Native Americans, we rounded up their children and sent them off to boarding schools where they were forced to cut their hair and forget their native languages.
After World War II, the Indian Adoption Project went into full swing.
It was designed to assimilate Native children and to provide them with what white folks deemed to be a better life.
It is estimated that as many as a third of all Native children were separated from their families between 1941 and 1967, and that as many as 85% of those children were placed in non-Native homes and institutions.
“We can’t be afraid to use words like genocide. The endgame, the official federal policy, was that the tribes wouldn’t exist.” — Anita Fineday, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, managing director of Casey Family Programs’ Indian child-welfare programs and a former chief judge at White Earth Tribal Nation
Now, decades later, the U.S. government is carrying out a disturbingly similar strategy to permanently separate young, impressionable Central American children from their families, their languages, and their cultures.
The only thing that makes it even marginally worse than the Adoption Era for Native Americans is the tragic fact that these were families coming to the U.S. of their own free will in the hopes of finding a better life, only to have their children stolen away from them and given to new families while they themselves have been doomed to return to the life-threatening situations they worked so hard to escape.
Iron Triangle Press continues to follow the issue of immigrant detention and family separation.