- Summer Adamson, reporter
The United States is Expelling Migrants
Migrant children are being expelled from the U.S. along Mexico border without parents or any adult supervision. These children are being put on planes and sent back home to the dangers they had hoped to escape by coming to the United States, all under the government’s guise of the coronavirus related protective measures.
Border Patrol's deputy chief Raul Oritz revealed in a court declaration on Sept. 11 that more than 159,000 migrants have been expelled from the United States since March due to an order sent out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 8,800 of these migrants were children who are traveling alone and 7,600 of these migrants were children traveling with parents.
The Trump administration claims that they are refusing asylum to unaccompanied children because they are a health risk. However, a court report filed in July suggests that children seeking asylum are being tested for the coronavirus and are being expelled regardless if the test comes back positive or negative. This means the United States is expelling children that pose no threat to the country.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, is calling on governments around the world to implement public health measures to protect migrant children coming to them for help. Coronavirus testing infrastructure indicates that the United States has the capability to comply with UNICEF’s demand, not disregard it.
The Trump administration has been housing migrant children in hotels since August. This is seen as a violation of human rights in U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s courtroom because these children are cut off from the outside world and are not going through the proper immigration system. Judge Gee ordered border agencies to stop detaining children in hotels and to remove all migrant children from hotels.
Unaccompanied migrant children are supposed to be taken to state licensed Health and Human Services shelters to receive schooling, legal services, and be placed with sponsor families or relatives.
Unfortunately, detention facilities might not be much better than hotels. Even before the coronavirus hit, immigrant detention facilities were overcrowded, unsanitary, and neglectful of detained children. Children are given inadequate food and products to maintain their hygiene, few clothes, and have been forced to sleep on the ground if they make a mistake.
With the increasing expulsions, immigrant families are being separated and forced to make impossible decisions. A 16 year old boy from Honduras who was detained in two separate hotels was only allowed to speak to his father for 10 minutes everyday and couldn’t tell his father the name of the hotel where he was being held.
A Haitian couple had to choose between leaving their baby with a sponsor in the United States and risking deportation while they waited for their asylum claim to be approved, or abandoning their asylum claim and being deported along with their baby.
Migrant children held in hotels are not allowed to go outside their rooms or interact with the outside world. They do not have access to education, therapy, or attorneys. Using hotels to detain children is frowned upon because the state cannot monitor the private security companies’ treatment of migrant children.
Without access to lawyers, detainees are not given the chance to seek asylum. Instead the US is expelling migrant children and families without proper court hearings.
Migrants come from all over the world seeking refuge in the United States, but the coronavirus is making it even harder for migrants to get the help they need.