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Migrant children at the border, a breakdown.

This could be an assumption on my part, but I feel like there’s a lot of confusion around what is actually happening at detention centers, where they come from, what they’re for, etc. I was unclear, so I assume a lot of people are unclear, but we all have the same basic opinion — it’s wrong to keep people (esp. children) in cages. So, I wanted to make a quick breakdown so we all know what happens to kids who come to the border alone, kids who come with their parents, and the differences between those situations under Obama and now under Trump.

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This could be an assumption on my part, but I feel like there’s a lot of confusion around what is actually happening at detention centers, where they come from, what they’re for, etc. I was unclear, so I assume a lot of people are unclear, but we all have the same basic opinion — it’s wrong to keep people (esp. children) in cages.

So, I wanted to make a quick breakdown(***) so we all know what happens to kids who come to the border alone, kids who come with their parents, and the differences between those situations under Obama and now under Trump.

A child at the border with their family, under Obama.

Most children cross the border with a family member, usually a parent. When they’re captured by ICE or head to an immigration center or port of entry, they’re either illegally crossing the border (“we just want to get into the US”) or they’re seeking asylum (“we’re running from a country where crime in our area is so rampant that either we or our kids are in immediate danger”).

The Obama administration actually established these family detention centers in order to keep children with their parents while their immigration requests were processed. (x) Back in 2013/2014, the US saw a spike in foreign nationals crossing the border illegally and the Obama administration was not prepared for the overflow. So, they set up these facilities that…weren’t great. Many of them violated a previous statute (the Flores agreement) concerning how and for how long migrant children could be detained.

A compromise of sorts was made called the Alternatives to Detention program, which technically still exists under Trump. Instead of holding a family, ICE would release the family under strict monitoring requirements, sometimes in the form of an ankle monitor on one of the parents (mom, most of the time). The family could stay together while their immigration case was processed but they wouldn’t be locked up in a detention facility. (The Trump administration is now using this program to deport instead of simply to track.) (x)

Asylum seekers tended to be treated better than everyone else. If you’re running from threat of violence or death, you and your family were more likely to be kept together and/or released under the Alternatives program. For everyone else, they were more likely to be held in a detention center and prosecuted for the crime of crossing the border illegally, but since that was a violation of the kids’ rights according to Flores, more of those families would be separated to get the kids out of those centers and into homes with another relative or foster situation while their parents’ cases progressed.

There’s also a general practice that kids under a certain age aren’t separated from their families. If you’re under five, they do everything they can to keep the family together until some kind of resolution is decided.

A child at the border alone, under Obama.

These kids are almost always seeking asylum because parents don’t send their minors on a dangerous journey hundreds or thousands of miles just for the heck of it or just because America is “the land of opportunity.” They send their children away from danger toward safety. These kids are almost always older children because parents don’t send their young kids on a dangerous journey without them.

Those children end up in family detention centers (the ones with the cages) — for no longer than three days — and then transferred to a shelter facility until they can be placed with a family member, sponsor, or foster home. A lot of these children have some kind of contact in the US, though sometimes that contact is also an undocumented immigrant. The Office of Refugee Resettlement takes care of unaccompanied minors and the ORR is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, not the Department of Homeland Security which is over ICE. Since ORR has no relation to ICE, they don’t care about the immigration status of the person who comes forward to claim any of those children. They just want to make sure the child is safe and ideally with someone they know. After the child is settled, they do a few checkins to make sure everything is okay, and then they’re on their own.

Summary – Obama

Republicans are not wrong when they say these detention centers operated under Obama, but they mischaracterize them by making it seem like it was the law or even common policy to separate families from their children. Every effort was made to keep families and children together, though the centers themselves were under heavy criticism at the time because it’s inhumane to keep people in cages.

A child at the border with their family, under Trump.

Children are stolen from their parents as a matter of routine, and there’s no other way to say it. They’re taken away while parents are told that the kids are just going to receive a bath. The parents don’t know that they may never see their child again and they don’t know where their child is going. Officially, “tender aged” children (kids under five or so) are supposed to be kept with their families, but we have infants under one year old being taken away from their parents even when that parent is seeking asylum. (x) There’s no compassion or humanity being employed here at all, as we saw last night when one of Trump’s former minions “womp-womped” about a little girl with Down’s Syndrome being taken away from her parents. (x)

Families can also request asylum to be kept together while their case is processed, but that hasn’t been working recently either.  There’s a lawsuit right now (Ms. L v. ICE) where a 7 year old girl from the Congo was taken from her mother even though the mom requested asylum. (x) The Trump administration is using the Flores agreement and policies in place under the Obama administration to say that they are legally required to separate children from their parents, and that’s simply not true because the Obama administration made every effort to keep families together when possible. The Trump administration is making every effort to separate them.

Kids that are taken by immigration officials end up in a detention facility (the cages) before ORR places them in a shelter to ostensibly be passed along to a relative, sponsor, or foster. Under Obama, most of the kids being sent to ORR for placement were older kids over 13 because those kids were unaccompanied minors. Now, since the Trump administration is taking kids and babies from their parents, ORR has to house younger children they weren’t previously equipped to handle. Some of the facilities have had to be updated quickly to handle small children and babies.

Trump’s new zero tolerance policy is what really kicked this into high gear in May, not anything under the Obama administration. Zero tolerance means that we don’t care why you came, you’re going to be treated as a criminal for illegally crossing the border. (x) Never before did we prosecute first-time asylum seekers, but now, everybody is the same and then maybe we’ll figure out why you came.  So, the kids are separated from their “criminal” parents – because they can’t be left in their care when the parent is being prosecuted by the federal government – and the parents are placed in lockup. The kids are placed in a different lockup. Up to 90% of parents are having their children taken away from them, and the rest of those are mothers who are going with their kids to the family detention facilities.  The other parents are going to adult jails to wait on their cases to be processed, which can take four to six weeks. Meanwhile, they can’t get in touch with their kids, don’t know where their kids are, and may never see them again because some of these parents are being deported without their children.  The children are now under the care of ORR and the process to release them back to their parents is so complicated and convoluted that it sometimes depends on the child to prove that their parent is their parent. We have five-year-olds — under stress — being asked their parents full names and dates of birth in order to be released back to those parents before mom & dad are deported.  And a lot of them can’t do it, so now they’re “unaccompanied minors” dumped into the foster system. (x)

So why don’t we give the kids IDs?  Well, the Department of Homeland Security gives them an alien ID number or wristband, and then turn them over to ORR (the Department of Health and Human Services) which sends them to temporary housing in places like NYC (this morning someone caught video of migrant children entering and leaving a foster care in East Harlem).  Meanwhile, the parents are still the responsibility of Homeland Security and being sent to jails to await immigration trials in other cities.  You have two different government departments keeping track of different family members in different cities — it’s a complete mess.

A child at the border alone, under Trump.

Nothing has really changed on the front end — they go to ORR – but now ICE is getting involved in the placement of the kids.  Whereas before, ORR never cared about the immigration status of the adults coming to pick up the kids, this administration wants to extend the background checks to immigration status, which will obviously deter many undocumented adults from retrieving their nieces, nephews, grandkids, kids of friends, etc. who were sent here alone to escape the violence of their home country. They won’t step forward to collect the kids because they might be deported, which means there are more kids who have nowhere to go when they get here. (x)

Summary

Trump took a complicated situation and made it more stressful with a zero tolerance policy toward all immigrants crossing the border. The Obama administration had a system in place that had a lot of faults — detention centers being the biggest one, obviously — but they operated from a place of doing what’s best for the children, even when misguided.

See, the reason why Obama was deaf to the criticism brought against his centers was his view that having women and children (or children alone) being sent to these “jails” with the cages would be a deterrent for other families who considered sending mothers with kids (or kids alone) to the US. He said the journey was dangerous for them and he wanted to staunch the flow of immigrants. Basically look what awaits you when you get here — it’s not great, stay where you are because his reading of the facts at the time was that the journey was more dangerous than the situation they were running from. Obviously that’s the wrong tactic because, even if your kid ends up in a cage for a few days, it’s still better than the rape or murder you’re trying to protect them from or the arduous journey ahead of them. (x)

The Trump administration wants to keep everybody out. If you come here — I don’t care who you are or your situation — your kid will be stolen from you and then you’ll be deported and never see them again. Asylum doesn’t matter. Family doesn’t matter. Age of the child doesn’t matter. We are going to separate you, put your kid in a cage, and then send you back to where you came from without your child.

As I was writing this, Trump says he’s going to sign some executive order to stop separation of families at the border (x), but it’s not even needed. They’ve created a narrative where Obama forced the separation of families, Trump is simply following the law, the Democrats refuse to change that law, and now Trump will swoop in with his pen to keep those families together. Trump thought he could leverage forced separation against getting funding for his wall, but even the Republicans in Congress didn’t go for it, so he’s stuck with this massive problem that he created in order to look tough on immigration.

Sidenote about missing children.

A few weeks ago, different numbers went viral concerning the number of missing kids that had been lost by the government after crossing the border. The number has always been misleading, but this is a good time to remind you that there were two separate groups of kids initially – unaccompanied minors and kids separated from their families.  The unaccompanied minors were taken in by ORR and then placed. And that’s it. We don’t always keep track of them after that because they’ve been picked up by a friend or family member or they were placed with the person they came to meet. You don’t actually want more government oversight here because it will lead to a lot of deportations under this administration.  Once the kid is safe in a home, we don’t need to follow their every move.  We don’t actually know where they are, but they’re not missing as characterized by all the viral posts.

The kids who are missing are the ones forcibly separated by ICE and then lost. When ICE separates a family, some of them go to ORR and then placed and then we longer keep track of them. Some of them are legitimately lost and end up in terrible situations like sex trafficking. That is the part that needs more oversight – where are the kids going when they leave ICE.

There is a third – smaller – group of kids that are placed by ORR that we can’t find and that’s because the people they were placed with don’t always want any further contact with the government. When ORR calls to check on the whereabouts of a kid, they just call. If no one answers, then the kid isn’t found. That missed call could be the result of changing a phone number, moving, or undocumented immigrants who don’t want to talk to the government any more than necessary. So, we don’t know where those kids are exactly, but they were most likely released to the care of a family member initially and they’re probably still fine. (Probably isn’t the ideal situation, but I’m of the notion that it’s still better than having ORR work with ICE to keep track of every child indefinitely.) (x)

Unfortunately, this administration has now classified all of the kids the same way, so it looks like the kids lost by the Department of Homeland Security are the same as the kids who are just no longer being tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services. They’re not the same though. Some were lost by the system and some were released by the system and left alone to live their lives in the care of whoever they were released to.

(***) This ended up not being a quick breakdown.  My bad.)

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GOP lawmakers don’t want metal detectors at the Capitol.

People broke into your job with weapons, but you don’t want metal detectors?

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Republican lawmakers are upset they have to wait in line to go through metal detectors at the Capitol.
 
Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX): “You can’t stop me; I’m on my way to a vote.”
 
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ): “For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!”
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): It “impedes the ability of members to come and vote. This is our job.”
 
Non-Rep Rafi D’Angelo (D-Sitting On My Bed Right Now): “Are you fucking kidding me?”
 
I have to take my shoes off to get on an airplane because 20 years ago one guy on one plane tried to set off a shoe bomb.
 
Hundreds of terrorists were trying to beat y’all ass LAST WEEK at your job. What’s not clicking?
 
Where’s all this outrage over metal detectors when we want to get rid of guns so our CHILDREN don’t have to go through what you went through last week? Kids all over the country stand in line to go through a metal detector every single day just to get an education and y’all say that’s wonderful because you want zero restrictions on firearms.
 
Where’s all this outrage over standing in line to vote when people all over the country have to wait 7 or 8 hours to cast their ballot? Y’all put those obstacles there by design so you can win elections, but an “obstacle” that delays you 15 minutes and could save your life is a reach too far?
 
I hate them. Hate is such a strong word that I was taught not to use, but it’s really not strong enough at this point. I can’t muster up any other reaction toward people who consistently put this overinflated sense of faux-liberty above all else because it’s on brand for the message they’ve pumped into their followers. This is about their complete and total resistance to being told what to do by people they feel they have the right to boss around.  There’s a very clear thread between Karen yelling at Wal-Mart about being told to wear a mask and a Republican Representative yelling in the Capitol being told to go through a metal detector. Whether it’s because you make minimum wage at the register, you’re a security guard with a high school education, you’re a soyboy liberal whose unmasculine fear of dying makes you unpatriotic, or you’re a person of color asserting authority to enforce a rule, regulation, or mandate, Republicans think you are beneath them and refuse to be told what to do by someone they deem inferior for any reason.
Those metal detectors went up for their own protection, but they were put there by people inferior to them who did not ask their permission, and therefore, the metal detectors are evil and they will yell and stomp and walk around them and refuse to comply.
So…
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Republicans don’t believe the election was “free and fair”

In that case, I hope they just stop voting.

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Three days after every major media outlet called the election for former Vice President Joe Biden, President Donald Trump has shown no signs of conceding as he continues to push baseless claims of widespread fraud. The campaign he is waging against the integrity of the election, which first took root months ago, has had a major impact on how Republicans perceive the results, according to new Morning Consult polling.

This latest survey, conducted Nov. 6-9, 2020 among 1,987 registered voters nationwide, is part of an ongoing research project to gauge the level of trust Americans have in their electoral system. Results will be updated on this page weekly.

(cont. Morning Consult)

This was absolutely the goal of the Trump administration from the start. The writing was on the wall — he was going to lose this election bigly and he needed to make his supporters doubt the results, so they all cast a shadow on mail-in votes. They knew the largest share of mail-in votes would be Democrats because Democrats have not rejected COVID science and are more likely to avoid crowds. Sending in your ballot from the safety of your home makes sense to someone who believes the coronavirus pandemic is a real thing. Then the GOP prevented those ballots from being counted until after all of the same day ballots in places like Pennsylvania, so Trump declared victory on the day, and his supporters watched it slip away as these sketchy mail-in ballots were counted.

That’s the one-two punch. Mail-in ballots have more fraud, and I won before the fraudulent ballots started being counted.

So now we have an entire political party undermining the foundation of our democracy, by following behind this orange baby man throwing a tantrum because he hates losing, and they’re all but ensuring lower turnout for the next election cycle among their base. If 7 out of 10 people on your side of the aisle believe the election is rigged, how many of them are going to sit out next time because their vote doesn’t matter anyway? If just 1 of every ten says “why waste the time?” the GOP loses by an even wider margin.

Fine with me! I especially hope Republicans in Georgia have lost faith in the voting process so they don’t turn out for the Senate runoffs in a few weeks. I know plenty of Lazy Liberals who’ve sat on the couch on election day because we keep seeing these races stolen from us due to gerrymandering and voter restrictions and polling site closures. A big chunk of us have said “why waste the time?” and it has cost us every time. A little pessimism on the other side is music to my ears.

Also, it’s important to note that whichever party loses the White House has less trust in the election. It happens every time. Strangely enough, the only recent election where faith in the election was about equal for Democrats and Republicans was Bush v. Gore back in 2000, where the election hinged on less than 600 votes in Florida (as opposed to tens of thousands of votes in multiple states for Biden this go ’round).

This is the share of voters who said the election was free and fair, going back to Bush vs. Clinton.

It’s interesting that the trust gap of the 90s doubled once Barack Obama was elected, and it has doubled again now that the sitting President has spent the past few days telling his base over and over that the results weren’t fair. The Republican Party is circling the drain and I would love for this distrust in the voting process to be the final nail in their coffin. They can’t win if they don’t even show up.

Donald Trump’s ego would love nothing more than to see his supporters rise up and fight for him, so he will fan the flames for as long as they will believe his lies. I can’t think of a bigger indictment of his fabrications than Fox News refusing to give them more airtime:

I guess Rusty and Carole will have to get all their conspiracy theories straight from the source now.

 

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2020 Election Firsts

The last four years have been hard, and these “firsts” show that we are in fact still moving in the right direction.

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You know where this is going to end up (but not for the reason you think!) and I just wanted to highlight some other “firsts” from last week’s election. On the one hand, it’s 2020, so having “the first” of anything when it comes to representation is tiring. On the other hand, it’s 2020, and the last four years have been hard, and these “firsts” show that we are in fact still moving in the right direction.

Mauree Turner

Oklahoma has never had a Muslim elected to their State Legislature. The US has never had a non-binary person elected to any State Legislature. Until Mauree Turner.

Being a queer Black Muslim activist in Oklahoma comes with a lot of hurdles just to be seen and heard, but during the course of their activism and organizing behind other politicians, Turner was being encouraged to just run for office themself. They ran on a platform of inclusion and defeated their challenger with 71% of the vote.

Cori Bush

If at first you don’t succeed, keep at it until you do. That’s what Cori Bush did.

Cori Bush ran for Senate in 2016, but was defeated in the primary. She ran for the House in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District (St. Louis mostly) in 2018, but was defeated in the primary. When she ran again this year and upset incumbent Lacy Clay in the primary, it ended the Clay Family’s hold on that seat which began with Lacy’s father Bill Clay back in 1968. Bush got her start in politics after the Ferguson protests where she served as a triage nurse and organizer. With her win in the general, she’s the first Black Woman elected to Congress from Missouri.

Sarah McBride

In 2012, Sarah McBride became the first openly trans woman to work in the White House. In 2016, she addressed the Democratic National Convention, becoming the first transgender American to address a major political party. Now, she has another first.

After winning her State Senate race in Delaware, Sarah McBride is the first trans person elected to a state Senate in the US. As a campaign staffer in Delaware, McBride previously worked on Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden’s campaign before coming out as trans during her last week as student body president of American University. A flurry of media coverage followed and the Biden Family continued to express their support, culminating in a position at the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Mondaire Jones

Mondaire Jones won his House race to become the first openly gay Black Congressman.

Jones was running in a solidly Democratic district just north of NYC without a strong challenger in the primary. He easily pulled ahead of his challengers back in June during the primary for a seat that had been held by the same woman for thirty years.  Jones has the support of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but I’m most excited to see him working with another of his high-profile supporters — AOC.

Ritchie Torres

Another openly gay first, this time the first openly gay Afro-Latino in Congress.

Ritchie Torres will also be representing New York alongside Mondaire Jones when Congress seats its new class. His primary challenger was a notorious homophobe by the name of Rubén Díaz Senior, not to be confused with his more popular and more liberal son, Rubén Díaz Junior, who is the Bronx borough president. The ballots during that primary didn’t specify Junior or Senior, which I’m sure was an intentional “oversight” by the father’s campaign to capitalize on his son’s popularity, but in the end, Torres pulled it off and defeated his Republican challenger in the general last week. Torres said during his campaign that he wants to tackle the affordable housing crisis, expand the Supreme Court, and make Puerto Rico a state. He’s got big dreams and a bright future.

Kamala Harris

Madame Vice-President Elect will be the first female Vice President, the first Black VP, and the first Asian VP.**

There’s not much to add that hasn’t already been breathlessly covered everywhere for the past few days, but! She’s also the first Vice President who doesn’t share a last name with their spouse, which hadn’t occurred to me until last night, but I think it’s really awesome!

Full Disclosure: I hate when women feel pressured to change their last names after they get married, but I especially hate it when they have a career. You have papers and interviews and titles associated with one name, so why change that because of an outdated tradition that stems from ownership? Kamala Harris married Douglas Emhoff, and she’s still Kamala Harris. I was watching a documentary about Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election and it bummed me out that she felt she had no choice but to change her last name when Bill lost his reelection for Arkansas governor. She had kept her name and her job and she was too “independent” as a Southern wife, so she changed herself to help her husband appeal to voters, and that included taking Clinton as her last name. Forty years after that, I’m really excited that a woman has finally gotten to the White House and she kept hers.

**Kamala Harris is the first woman of color, but she’s not the first non-white VP. Hoover’s Vice President Charles Curtis was 3/8ths Native American.

 

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