Dozens of children, some as young as five, were stuck waiting for up to 39 hours in an ICE facility parking lot before being allowed to see their parents.
After the Trump administration ripped them away from their families, some children were forced to spend nearly two days in a van before being allowed to see their parents again, according to a Monday report from NBC News.
In July 2018, 37 migrant children were loaded into vans for what was supposed to be a 30-minute trip to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility, where they were to be reunited with their families. But before that happened, the children — all between 5 and 12 years old — were forced to spend at least 23 hours cooped up in vans in the parking lot.
One child spent two nights sleeping in a van, a total of 39 hours, before being allowed to see his parents again, due to the massive incompetence of the Trump administration's reunification efforts.
The ordeal started because of Trump's unconscionable practice of ripping families apart at the border in an effort to deter immigrants and asylum-seekers from coming to the United States. After national and global outrage, Trump ended the harmful policy, and a federal court forced a reluctant Trump administration to reunite every single kidnapped child with their parents.
The van full of children arrived at the Port Isabel Detention Center at 2:30 pm on July 15, 2018, according to records obtained by NBC. Eight hours later, one of the government contractors who had transported the children emailed his boss, saying not one single child had been processed and reunited with their family.
NBC reports that even though the facility had received two notifications that the children would be arriving, "ICE officers kept to their regular schedule, clocking out for the day while the parking lot filled with children eager to see their parents again."
The ICE facility was too cold and wasn't set up to accommodate the children sleeping there overnight, so the contractors hastily pulled together blankets, food, and additional vans for the children to sleep in.
The contractors were frustrated by the situation, according to emails obtained by NBC, and blamed Trump administration officials at both ICE and the Department of Health and Human Services for failing to prepare for the children's arrival.
About 24 hours after the van arrived, 32 children had been reunified with their family. It took another 15 hours to finally reunify the remaining children.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, "was clearly not ready to deal with the separations and did not take steps necessary to ensure a speedy reunification with their parents," a former Health and Human Services official told NBC News. "Had DHS acted differently, the process would have been much smoother and the impact on the kids would have been much less."
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) blasted the Trump administration's failures as "state-sanctioned child abuse."
"The utter cruelty and incompetence of this Administration never ceases to astound me," Speier said on Tuesday. "Confining children in buses for up to 39 hours while they wait to be reunited with their parents is state-sanctioned child abuse. We are better than this."
Trump's tenure in office has been defined by abject cruelty toward immigrants, and especially young children. When a young child is forced to spend 39 hours in a van in a parking lot, it shows just how cruel this administration can be.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.