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When the history books are written in years to come, the Trump administration’s cruel, callous, inhumane treatment of immigrant children may well be the most horrifying chapter.
Caitlin Dickerson writes in the New York Times that border officials are sending unaccompanied minors to Mexico, even though it is not their home country and they have no family there.
U.S. border authorities have been expelling migrant children from other countries into Mexico, violating a diplomatic agreement with Mexico and testing the limits of immigration and child welfare laws.
The expulsions, laid out in a sharply critical internal email from a senior Border Patrol official, have taken place under an aggressive border closure policy the Trump administration has said is necessary to prevent the coronavirus from spreading into the United States. But they conflict with the terms upon which the Mexican government agreed to help implement the order, which were that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border.
The expulsions put children from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at risk by sending them with no accompanying adult into a country where they have no family connections. Most appear to have been put, at least at first, into the care of Mexican child welfare authorities, who oversee shelters operated by religious organizations and other private groups.
The expulsions, which appear to number more than 200 over the past eight months, reflect the haphazard nature with which many of the administration’s most aggressive immigration policies have been introduced. In many cases, they have led to the shuffling of young children between U.S. government agencies and now, between the governments of countries that are not their own. For years now, the Trump administration’s handling of migrant children has left members of families separated for months on end and unable to reach one another.
A report to the courts earlier this month revealed that the parents of 545 such children currently in the United States, some of them separated from their families as long ago as 2017, still have not been located.
Under existing diplomatic agreements and U.S. policies, children from countries other than Mexico are supposed to be put on flights operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to their home countries, where they can be reunited with their families.
Rumors of children from other countries being expelled into Mexico have swirled among nonprofit workers advocating for child welfare in Mexico and the United States. But locating any such children has been difficult because of spotty reporting from Mexican government authorities.
But an email from the U.S. Border Patrol’s assistant chief, Eduardo Sanchez, obtained by The New York Times, makes it clear that such transfers have not only occurred, but that they are a clear violation of U.S. policy.
“Recently, we have identified several suspected instances where Single Minors (SM) from countries other than Mexico have been expelled via ports of entry rather than referred to ICE Air Operations for expulsion flights,” Mr. Sanchez wrote.