Houston – Months before the Donald Trump administration separated thousands of immigrant families at the border with Mexico, a “pilot program” in Texas detected problems such as a lack of cribs for babies taken from their parents, in an omen of what was to come, says a report released Thursday by Democratic congressmen.
Documents in the report indicate that the Department of Homeland Security did not inform Department of Health officials why the shelters were receiving more children separated from their parents at the end of 2017. It has now been revealed that Homeland Security was operating the pilot program in El Paso, Texas, which prosecuted parents for crossing the border illegally and taking their children to department shelters.
“We had a shortage of baby cribs last night,” wrote Jonathan White, a senior Health Department official, in an email on November 11, 2017. He added: “Overall, baby arrivals are increasing in recent weeks. and we think that this is due to more separations of the mothers by the CBP ”, added the text, referring to the acronym in English of the Office of Customs and Border Protection of the United States.RELATED
The problems revealed by the pilot program foreshadowed what would happen months later: government employees caring for babies and young children in so-called early childhood shelters and many parents being deported without their children. The consequences persist: Attorneys working to reunite immigrant families have said they cannot contact the deported parents of 545 children who were separated since July 2017.
Democrats on the House Legal Affairs Committee released the report along with emails from government agencies. That comes days before the presidential election, at a time when the party is campaigning against the separation of immigrant families by Trump, part of its operation against illegal border crossings, which sparked a wave of outrage.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Thursday that if elected president he will form a task force to reunite separated families.
The report highlights how the Trump administration discussed family separations from the beginning as an implementation tactic of the laws. In March 2017, then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told CNN that the government was considering taking children from their families and placing them in state-licensed shelters while the parents were on trial.
That July, CBP agents began separating families in what was later called a pilot program, according to a review by the inspector general of Health and Human Services.
That program lasted until the end of November 2017. According to the inspector general, at least 118 children were separated from their parents. Documents in the new report indicate that CBP did not explain to Health and Human Services why the shelters were receiving more children separated from their parents.