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Reunited father calls separation 'nightmare'

CNN's Ryan Nobles spoke with families who are back together after a month-long separation.

Posted: Jul 27, 2018 7:47 AM
Updated: Jul 27, 2018 8:14 AM

My heart broke reading their stories.

In May, at a border detention facility, a 14-year-old girl was told she could go to the shower. When she went, her mother was taken away. One day, after being detained crossing the border with his father in June, a 9-year-old boy was too tired to keep his eyes open. When he slept, his father was taken away.

Their families fled to the United States to escape violence. Then our country tore them from their parents, keeping them confined before shipping them thousands of miles away to live in Connecticut—with strangers, in custody sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services.

This is part of the story of the Trump administration's manufactured crisis at our border. It is an outrage and it is child abuse. As a result of its zero tolerance immigration policy, which has treated asylum seekers as criminals, the Trump administration separated nearly 3,000 children from their parents.

July 26th was the court-mandated deadline for the administration to reunify children between the ages of 5 and 17 with their parents. But the Trump administration has failed to meet that deadline. According to the administration's own data, as many as 463 parents have already been deported. Those parents and their children may never be reunited.

The media may have moved on to new crises over Russia or Iran, but this does not mean that this crisis has been solved. As the Congress, we must ensure the Trump administration reunites every single family that it has separated, and without further delay.

When I visited the border at the end of June, it was worse than I imagined. At the Ursula station, children were kept in freezing-cold holding cells with only tin foil blankets to keep them warm. The children and adults were moved to the Ursula Border Patrol Central Processing Center, a massive warehouse with cages that go on and on and with bright lights that beamed 24 hours a day. People were on display. There was no privacy.

At the Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Port Isabel detention facility, I met with 10 mothers, many in tears, worried about their children.

Child health experts have been sounding the alarm about the harm that we are doing to children by separating them from their families. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, "Separations from parents or primary caregivers is one of the most potent traumatic stressors a child can experience, especially under frightening, sudden, chaotic or prolonged circumstances. Such separations may increase children's risk for developing depression, anxiety, separation-related post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms ("traumatic separation") or other trauma reactions."

The 9-year-old who was held in HHS-sponsored custody in Connecticut, according to legal briefings filed on his behalf, "does not sleep well, distrusts adults and is depressed and tearful."

It is a moral imperative and a medical necessity that the administration reunite all the separated families now. Democrats in Congress are committed to ensuring this happens. On July 11th, the House Appropriations Committee marked up the Labor-HHS-Education FY19 funding bill. It accounts for nearly one third of the federal government's non-defense discretionary spending, including the Department of Health and Human Services.

At that markup, my Democratic colleagues on the committee and I advanced some of the first and only Congressional actions to deal with the President's manufactured crisis.

In a bill worth $177 billion, we passed several amendments that would require that the administration start providing firm answers and clear solutions to ameliorate the trauma this administration has inflicted.

One amendment would provide an increase of $10 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Child Traumatic Stress Network. With those funds, grantees would be able to provide counseling to children in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement who suffered the trauma of separation.

Another amendment would direct the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to submit to Congress a plan outlining how the department would locate and return every child separated. If the Secretary fails to do so, according to the amendment, we would reduce his budget by $100,000 per day.

It is especially important that we take these actions as news emerges that the Trump administration is still separating families, namely children from aunts, uncles, siblings and grandparents. My Congressional colleagues, who visited detention facilities at the border this weekend, confirmed as much. The President's executive order only recognizes parents as relatives. If grandparents cross with their grandchildren, they are still being separated.

This crisis is far from over.

As the Labor-H FY19 bill moves to the floor, I urge the majority to help us keep families together. Do not let the administration evade accountability. We have demanded answers: on the costs of the "zero tolerance" policy, the massive increase in detentions, on record-keeping and on reunification. But we have, to date, received no concrete answers from the Office of Management and Budget or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Importantly, we must not be trading one abhorrent policy for another. During our markup, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) offered an amendment that would have the result of holding children and their parents in jail-like conditions for an indefinite period of time, essentially overturning the 1997 Flores settlement, which limits the length of time and conditions under which US officials can detain immigrant children. Indefinite incarceration of innocent children is never the solution.

Thankfully, the tide has begun to turn on this crisis, following a bipartisan and national outcry. Last week, a federal judge ordered the two children being held in Connecticut to be returned to their parents. Finally back with her mom, according to her lawyer, the girl said, "It is beautiful to be free."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153270

Reported Deaths: 3807
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10332104
Hinds10190199
Harrison7244111
Jackson6521124
Rankin5805103
Lee523695
Madison4964107
Forrest388286
Jones367788
Lauderdale3575147
Lafayette334952
Washington3241108
Lamar296650
Oktibbeha251362
Lowndes243864
Bolivar242984
Panola229653
Neshoba2241118
Marshall221250
Leflore207791
Monroe203978
Pontotoc202929
Lincoln194865
Sunflower192555
Warren178757
Tate177051
Union171026
Copiah167040
Pike164758
Yazoo158840
Scott157930
Itawamba156135
Alcorn154828
Pearl River154168
Coahoma151943
Simpson151953
Prentiss149531
Adams144451
Grenada142845
Leake139444
Holmes132361
Tippah128030
Covington127939
George126425
Winston124526
Hancock123640
Wayne120623
Marion118646
Attala117534
Tishomingo110842
Chickasaw109032
Newton108029
Tallahatchie97727
Clay93427
Clarke93053
Jasper84822
Stone80015
Calhoun78113
Walthall77229
Montgomery75825
Carroll74015
Lawrence73414
Smith72816
Noxubee72517
Yalobusha72328
Perry68126
Tunica62319
Greene61222
Claiborne58916
Jefferson Davis58817
Amite55814
Humphreys54719
Benton49918
Quitman4977
Webster46414
Kemper44718
Wilkinson40422
Jefferson36411
Franklin3535
Choctaw3507
Sharkey32317
Issaquena1204
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 249524

Reported Deaths: 3578
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson33064500
Mobile19951362
Madison13596148
Tuscaloosa13246154
Montgomery12435236
Shelby1061677
Baldwin889098
Lee781466
Morgan686150
Etowah643966
Calhoun6430121
Marshall635355
Houston537738
DeKalb492236
Cullman451542
Limestone433345
St. Clair432555
Lauderdale422354
Elmore412964
Walker3710111
Talladega359354
Jackson329823
Colbert329642
Blount299740
Autauga278042
Franklin256434
Coffee248315
Dale236254
Chilton227438
Dallas226832
Russell22383
Covington220434
Escambia198931
Tallapoosa184391
Chambers177950
Pike159914
Clarke159819
Marion143636
Winston135123
Lawrence131636
Pickens125718
Geneva12438
Marengo123124
Bibb119617
Barbour117811
Butler117842
Randolph104921
Cherokee103424
Hale97831
Fayette92516
Washington92219
Clay92024
Henry8756
Lowndes80229
Monroe79011
Cleburne77814
Macon74522
Crenshaw72030
Bullock70219
Perry6906
Lamar6898
Conecuh68814
Wilcox64218
Sumter58622
Greene42818
Choctaw42713
Coosa3544
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