The Donald Trump administration is looking at ways to codify deportation of unaccompanied minors, a move that was decried by progressives, liberals, and even some on the right.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in a letter to Congress, asked for authority to begin deportation of children who arrive at the border without accompanying parents or family members. That creates what Nielsen referred to as a "pull factor" for migrants.
"Hundreds of Central American children come into our custody each day, await transfer to (Health and Human Services) care, and, ultimately are placed with a sponsor in the United States," Nielsen said, framing the humane treatment of children as a negative.
The request—which also asks for the authority to keep families seeking asylum in detention while they await their cases being heard and for the authority to allow requests for asylum to be done in their home countries rather than at the border—is likely a non-starter. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is not inclined to vote in favor of helping DHS, or the Trump administration more broadly, with immigration.
Nielsen also took her case to the American people via Twitter in a lengthy thread detailing her goals for the request.
"My greatest concern is for the children," said Nielsen, "who are put at high risk by this emergency and who are arriving sicker than ever before after traveling on the treacherous trek."
My greatest concern is for the children, who are put at high risk by this emergency and who are arriving sicker than ever before after traveling on the treacherous trek.— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) March 29, 2019
But for immigration advocates and opponents of the Trump administration alike, this justification rang hollow.
"This is your policy!" said Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas). "You now want to deport every child who has made that 'treacherous trek.' Shame!"
The “treacherous trek,” @SecNielsen has been made worse by your policy of pushing vulnerable migrants from urban ports to rural areas w/ fewer agents and resources. This is your policy! You now want to deport every child who has made that “treacherous trek.” Shame!#NielsenResign https://t.co/UHEdhq3BSP— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) March 29, 2019
"Their countries don't have any resources we need," said actress Marsha Warfield.
Don't it make you feel proud to be an American?— Marsha Warfield (@MarshaWarfield) March 28, 2019
Can't enslave them?
Ship 'em back.
Their countries don't have any resources we need. https://t.co/LqAYLITXYI
Even Nicolle Wallace—a proud Republican and the former communications director for George W. Bush, for whom Nielsen also worked—was amazed.
"What is happening??" Wallace tweeted.
What?? From baby cages to child deportations - what is happening?? DHS to ask Congress for sweeping authority to deport unaccompanied migrant children https://t.co/xIJmrMOP1X— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) March 29, 2019
The news comes as conditions for migrants in El Paso, Texas, are becoming untenable for the migrants held there. Groups are hitting the ground Saturday to rally in support of the detained people.
Mobilization called for in #ElPaso #Texas on March 30th against the mass internment of migrant workers under an overpass. Meanwhile, DHS is using the crisis to call for "emergency" powers, more money, and the removal of laws which slow down the deportation of migrant children. pic.twitter.com/6Pjgu4cdpA— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) March 29, 2019