What Didn’t Stop During the Pandemic: The Trump Administration Deported More than 900 Children in Recent Months

BELatina Immigrants 900 Trump
A family wearing protective face masks walks towards the U.S. at the Paso del Norte International Border bridge after the United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travel over their shared border in an effort to limit the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez - RC2ZNF9RP0AP

At this point, the separation of families or the images of hundreds of children caged by the Trump Administration seem to be archived deep in our memory.

But if there’s one thing this government doesn’t forget, it’s its political agenda.

As reported by ProPublica, and while the country was distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration “has aggressively begun to rush the deportations of some of the most vulnerable migrant children in its care.”

While this may not seem like anything new, and while we may seem to have lost the capacity to be astonished, what the media reports as disturbing — even to “veteran immigration attorneys” — is the speed with which the government has deported more than 900 unaccompanied immigrant children in recent months.

Federal statistics show how the declaration of emergency has made it easier for the government to turn back hundreds of children at the border between the months of March and April, without even allowing them access to U.S. territory.

“Federal authorities have stalled the release of migrant children in the U.S. to relatives in some cases and in late-night moves are attempting to deport them with scant notice to their attorneys,” ProPublica adds. “In particular, the government seems to be focused on children who have crossed the border alone after U.S. authorities forced them and their parents to wait for months in Mexico in their bid for asylum.”

Under the argument that immigrants “pose an absolute, concrete public health risk to this country and everybody they come in contact with,” and while paradoxically the president insists on saying that everything is fine and that the country can return to normal, minors have had to remain in Mexico without the company of an adult and without access to legal counsel.

“We are seeing a wholesale attack,” said Jennifer Podkul, director of policy for Kids in Need of Defense, a national nonprofit advocating for migrant children. “They are using the pandemic as an excuse why they are expelling children.”

According to the New York Times, these new and accelerated measures by the government represent “an extraordinary policy shift” that has been taking place in recent weeks on the southern border, under which “safeguards that have for decades been granted to migrant children by both Democratic and Republican administrations appear to have been abandoned.”

Until the Trump Administration, minors who showed up at the border without adult guardians received housing, education, medical care, and a lengthy administrative process that eventually allowed them to defend their right to remain in the United States.

“Those who were eventually deported were sent home only after arrests had been made to assure they had a safe place to return to,” the media adds.

“That process appears to have been abruptly thrown out under President Trump’s latest border decrees. Some young migrants have been deported within hours of setting foot on American soil,” it concludes. “Others have been rousted from their beds in the middle of the night in U.S. government shelters and put on plans out of the country without any notification to their families.”