With an estimated 2,300 children still in U.S. government detention facilities after being separated from their families by the Trump administration, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spearheaded a letter signed by Senate Democrats and sent to federal agencies on Monday demanding answers about the fate of those children and what the plan is for ending their incarceration and reuniting them with their loved ones.
"The Trump Administration ripped over 2,300 kids from their parents and scattered them across the country," Warren wrote in an email to the Huffington Post. "This administration owes us clear answers on how they will reunite the families they tore apart."
In the letter, the lawmakers said they are "deeply concerned by reports of chaotic attempts to reunify parents and children" and demanded both answers and action from the agencies are the heart of the administration's cruel "zero tolerance" border policy.
According to the post:
The letter asks the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services to respond by July 6 and provide the senators with anonymous identification numbers linking all the children and parents who were separated. They also want to know how long families have been apart, if parents have been contacted about where their children are, and whether separated families remain in government facilities, have been released or have been deported. Lastly, the senators ask for weekly briefings from DHS and HHS officials on their efforts to reunite families.
Last week, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to end its family separation policy and reunite children with their families, family members, or custodians within 30 days. According to Warren, however, too little has been done to end the needless suffering of children and their families.
"This is an urgent matter. Hundreds of children are separated from their families, suffering untold distress," Warren declared. She added, "The 'zero-tolerance' policy that tore these families apart was implemented with no plan whatsoever for how to bring them back together again."
After hundreds of thousands of Americans rallied on Satuday to condemn the Trump administration's policy in cities nationwide, Warren issued this tweet on Monday after visiting detention facilities last week:
When I went down to the border to see what was happening, I met with advocates who are doing everything they can to #KeepFamiliesTogether. They've been working overtime on this, and they know we can't stop until every single child is reunited with their family. pic.twitter.com/JBsoHk9zNq
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 2, 2018
Anecdotally, the stories of separated families continue to create heartbreak nationwide:
Mothers' suffering at an immigration jail:
"It's been four months since I last saw my son. He's three years old."
'I haven’t even spoken to my daughter in weeks'. "I'm desperate."
"We are all tormented." #ReuniteFamiliesNow #FamiliesBelongTogether https://t.co/E4MChVilMJ
— Kay (@KayKosmos) July 1, 2018
Late Sunday, the New York Times reported on how families and sponsors trying to get children out of government detention continue to face financially burdensome fees and red tape that are thwarting and delaying their efforts.
"The government is creating impossible barriers and penalizing poverty," Neha Desai, director of immigration at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, told the Times.
On Monday afternoon, immigrant rights groups and child safety advocates pushed the #Reunitethe2300 hashtag on social media as a way to keep up the political pressure:
Tag your favorite news outlets and request:
GET THE TWEETSTORM TOOLKIT: https://t.co/9V0nvhQLoP
— Define American (@DefineAmerican) July 2, 2018
Join us for a Tweet storm today 4-6 p.m. EST to fight to reunite the children separated from their parents at the border. Keep sharing until we #ReuniteThe2300. https://t.co/lVfKlUfPd1 pic.twitter.com/4cqWC0LaRr
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) July 2, 2018
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) July 2, 2018