Protest planned Saturday downtown
Story and photos by Miriam Raftery
Photo: Congressman Juan Vargas, right, and Congresswoman Susan Davis, left, arrive at child detention facility in El Cajon.
June 18, 2018 (El Cajon, CA) – San Diego Congressional members Susan Davis and Juan Vargas joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic members of the Hispanic Caucus in touring three local facilities holding child immigrants, including a fenced facility in EL Cajon with 65 migrant boys, 10 percent of whom were forcibly separated from their parents by the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all undocumented parents. In the past six weeks, the federal government has acknowledged taking away over 2,000 children from parents at the border, including infants and toddlers.
“The United States should have a zero tolerance policy for the immoral treatment of children,” said Rep. Davis (CA-53), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee whose district includes part of El Cajon. “We are a nation of values and we ask our men and women in uniform to defend those values every day. This policy is in no way consistent with those values.”
Davis adds, “As a social worker who practiced in medical and psychiatric settings, particularly focusing on children and families, I can say the profound trauma thee children are experiencing will cause immediate and long-lasting damage to them.”
She is cosponsor of House Resolution 927 to condemn the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy separating children from parents, an action now opposed by 67% of Americans according to a new CBS news poll, including 90% of Democrats, 66 percent of independents and 39% of Republicans.
Davis and Vargas have indicated that unlike media touring the facility last week, who were forbidden to speak to the children, members of Congress did meet with the youngsters. Davis has said she also met with some parents separated from their children as part of a fact-finding mission.
Local Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter issued a statement supporting the Trump administration "zero tolerance" policy. "The amount of individuals with children coming to the border and either entering illegally or presenting themselves at a Port of Entry has increased significantly, more than doubling from previous years," he says. "The policy by the prior administration of simply providing a notice to appear and then releasing these individuals into the U.S. for a court date that is three years away is both irresponsible and unsustainable. Additionally, the number of our Border Patrol agents are down, so these agents are trying to handle more with less. "
Hunter, who did not participate in the tour to check on the children's welfare, said Trump policies have not changed from prior administrations, a claim also made by the Trump administration but debunked by major media outlets. (Prior administrations did not imprison immigrants with children who crossed a border illegally unless other crimes were committed, and children were allowed to stay with parents pending hearings.) Hunter says would-be immigrants should seek asylum, a practice that is legal.
But there have been reports that even some asylum seekers have recently been separated from their chldren.
Despite his view that all illegal immigrants should face legal enforcement, Hunter added, "There are changes in our immigration policy that definitely need to be made and when policies are presented that start with building a border wall, then I am willing to work with any of my colleagues, including Democrats, to resolve the ongoing situation as soon as possible. It is my understanding that President Trump will be addressing the House GOP on this matter, I look forward to hearing more on what he has to say about the situation.”
Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democrat running against Hunter, blasted Hunter’s comments on Twitter as “ the words of an out of touch, heartless politician. This isn’t a partisan issue, separating and caging children is wrong. This does nothing to make America safer,” he said, urging voters to remember Hunter’s remarks in November.
The Trump administration has stood by its policies, but issued conflicting and at times, misleading statements. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday stated, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border, period.” That statement is untrue, according to fact checks by multiple major media outlets and Attorney General Jeff Session's statements indicating that all parents who cross illegally with children can expect to have their children taken away.
President Donald Trump has claimed a law “Democrats gave us” has required the separations, another untrue statement. There is no law on the books requiring separations, though the Obama administration occasionally separated children if parents had committed crimes more serious than border crossings. But never before in U.S. history has there been any systemic effort to separate migrant parents and children; families were allowed to stay together pending immigration hearings or deportations. Trump is using the children as bargaining chips in an effort to bring Democrats to the table to support changes in immigration law that would not only strengthen border security but would also sharply cut back on legal immigration options.
Some prominent Republicans are also speaking out. Former First Lady Laura Bush wrote in a Washington Post editorial, “This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” She added, “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert,” options being done in Texas., where she lives. “These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War Two, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history,” the wife of Republican President George W. Bush further stated.
The facilities in San Diego are run by Southwest Key, which runs 26 facilities set up originally to house only unaccompanied minors who came to the U.S. No prior administration has ever systematically separated children from parents who came with them to the border. Southwest Key’s centers are funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Health and Human Services department. Locally, their three centers are in El Cajon, Lemon Grove and San Diego. The children here are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—places where families have fled threats from drug cartels and gang violence.
Photo, left: The detention facility in El Cajon, run by Southwest Key, is surrounded by wire fencing, concrete lots and a locked gate.
A media tour last Friday showed youths in the El Cajon facility are being treated better than centers in some other places. Notably disturbing, a facility in Texas was shown in video and described by a Congressman as warehousing children in “cages” or cage-like pens and sleeping on hard floors. At the El Cajon facility, children sleep in beds, have exercise opportunities and educational instruction, but are limited to just two ten-minute calls a week to parents – if their parents’ location is known. Southwest Key has indicated that the average stay at its local facilities is 40 days before children are found foster homes or if possible, placed with other family members. A bell rings when a child is allowed to leave.
Congresswoman Pelosi, a California Democrat, has called the family separations “barbaric.”
Congressman Vargas (CA-51) emphasized in a press conference in San Ysidro today after the tours that the problem locally isn’t the facilities, but rather the Trump administration policies.
“The policies we have on the separation of children from their parents is immoral. It’s wrong…It’s certainly not Biblical,” Vargas state. On Twitter earlier, he called Trump’s decision to also deny asylum to victims of domestic abuse and gang violence “heartless and dangerous” adding “We must help the most vulnerable among us.”
Three major medical organizations –the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics--have come out this week in opposition to the forced separation of migrant parents and children, after one distraught father killed himself upon seeing his child wrenched screaming from his arms.
Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, toured a Texas shelter where a distraught toddler was pounding the floor, crying. Staff at the detention center told her they were prohibited from picking up and comforting the frightened children.
“She didn’t have her mother, and none of us can fix that,” the prominent physician said, the Washington Post reports. “The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met. That contradicts everything we know that the kids need to build their health,” Kraft said, adding that this can cause long-term, devastating effects from stress that can disrupt a child’s development and even cause physical health problems.
Although news of the Congressional delegation’s visit to the El Cajon detention facility for children was kept under wraps, with even media receiving only last-minute notice, two protesters managed to find out and show up.
Carrying a sign that read “Keep the Kids, Deport the Racists”, Elizabeth Osborne told ECM that she drove all the way from Solvang, California because “I’m just concerned that these young people are being separated from parents through no fault of their own. This is a disgrace,” she said, adding that she can’t believe this is happening in America.
But at least one local resident showed no sympathy for the children, or the life-threatening plights that led many immigrant families to come here.
Erica, who gave only her first name, says she works at a salon in a business center next door and learned that children were being detained here only after media coverage on Friday. She asked media to go away and stop disrupting her business, adding, “Parents should stay where they came from and not bring their children here.” She said America has enough trouble taking care of our own citizens.
But across the nation, many disagree with her point of view. Rallies are being held across the nation and media around the world is sharply criticizing the U.S. policy, which the United Nations has said violates international human rights laws and treaties.
On Saturday, a “Families Belong Together” rally is scheduled in downtown San Diego at 10 a.m. in front of the Civic Center at 202 C Street. Participants are calling for an end to family separations and will march from the Civic Center to the headquarters for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a few blocks away. The California Teachers Union, the American Civil Liberties Union’s local chapter and other organizations have announced they will participate.
Those who attend will be given yellow wristbands and calls to action to help the immigrant children.You can learn more at the group’s website at https://actionnetwork.org/events/families-belong-together-san-diego
You can also contact members of Congress with this tool or call them using the phone numbers below:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
Sen. Kamala Harris (D)
Rep. Susan Davis (D)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R)
Rep. Darrell Issa (R)
Rep. Scott Peters (D)
Rep. Juan Vargas (D)
Words of wisdom
Yes, WaPo gives views and information that is critical of Democrats, not just Republicans, and they’re welcomed by its subscribers and I appreciate you sharing this as many have mislabeled them as “Fake News”.
We must stop illegal immigration - Dianne Feinstein
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Despite Trump's fears,Tijuana's violence rarely enters San Diego
Pope: Take in as many refugees as you can
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE - Pope Francis urged nations Thursday to take as many refugees as they can integrate into their societies, but also to invest in places like Africa so migrants won't turn to human traffickers to reach countries that can offer a better life, according to an Associated Press story by Alessandra Tarantino. Speaking to reporters on his airplane as he flew back to Rome after a visit to Geneva, Francis also reiterated that he supports the Roman Catholic bishops in the United States who condemned the immigration policy of separating children from parents who enter the U.S. illegally.
Trump Imitator Nails It while Trump Retreats from his own Mess!
America’s power comes from its values
America’s power comes from its values: freedom, the rule of law, respect for human rights.
Trump's family separation policy is as damaging to America as Abu Ghraib https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/20/trump-border-policy-fami...
Thank You Shortstack
We are hearing that these families are being put in situations that they have to wait a very long time, days, to get legally processed and we’re seeing the lines. We’re not being told if this is a 9:00 to 5:00 processing operation. Does that mean they wait in that same line constantly or are they required to leave and return the next day or is there a number assigned to them so they keep their place. It seems there would be a rational process in place to deter crossing the wrong way and help these immigrants make the right choice after going through so much to get here.
OUR DHS HAS NO PROCESS TO REUNIFY THESE NON-WHITE KIDS
Trump followers... :-()
Trump haters... :-O
This is a Spiritual Crisis
RE: Soul Searching....
A Wasted Education
Perhaps Hano you should consider looking a little more closely inside yourself. If you need a Degree to define who you are, you might need some time to consider who you are and how you fit into this world. Sincerely hoping the best for you my friend! Empathy for those who are vulnerable and can’t defend themselves is not a weakness.
You sound like Kailyn from Teen Mom.
"Guys look at me!!! I have a Bachelor's degree!!! Did I mention I have a Bachelor's degree? Because I have one you know. A Bachelor's degree."
Since you asked....
There are lots of other options.
As the U.S. has done when there were crises in other parts of the world throughout history, we could open our doors to a limited number of the refugees and asylum seekers without treating them like criminals.
We need a brief vetting process to assure that nobody is on a terror watch list or has a violent criminal or gang record. Famlies could be kept together during this vetting.
While awaiting a hearing to decide if they can stay or if they will be deported, families could either be released to a sponsoring family, or perhaps a parent could wear an ankle bracelet if there is a fear of a flight risk. Another option is to convert some faciliites into family camps where parents can children can go through this waiting process together.
Steps could also be taken to help make things safer for families in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Honduras where most of these people have fled from. If we helped work to crush the drug cartels and gangs, as we have worked to crush ISIS and Al Qaeda, the U.S. would be respected instead of despised.
I heard a story on a major news station today about a teeen boy who was ordered to join the drug cartel. He refused. So they ran him over, giving him a head injury. His desperate mother gave hm $30, all she had, and told him to run north. The gangs are going around to famlies and saying once kids are teens they must join cartels or be killed or injured, or have a family member killed as coercion.
So if you support sending all these peoople back, you're saying you support drug cartels, because that's the only way left that they can have a chance to survive--join the drug gangs, and hope they aren't killed for gang activity, and they will have to participate in bloody, violent actions against others to save their own lives. Is that what you believe they should do? What other options would you offer for these families who have not a single good, legal choice to find safety? Don't say enter legally. They canot. You can't apply for visa if you're poor in these countries to come to the U.S. And if you come to the border and ask for asylum, the Trump administration has said it no longer considers gang violence a reason to grant asylum, So they'll be turned away.
What would you do if this was happening to your children? I've yet to hear a single conservative answer that question. They dodge it. Look yourself in the mirror and answer it. Judge not lest ye should be judged. You would do exactly what these parents are doing, if it was the only way to save your childrens' lives.
so your answer means they should stay, have their kids die,
or be forced into working for violent drug cartels.
That is a simplistic "solution" that is really a death sentence for these people. I think those advocating for that are either simple-minded or racists one step away from promoting genocide of these poor desperate people from Central America whose lives are in so much danger.
Oh and for the person advocating for a solution that involves death of these chlidren? You are banned from this site as our webmaster can do so.
Our rules require courtesy and respect, but anyone calling for the death of kids or insulting people who are trying to protect children are not welcome here. No hate speech on our site.
Stay and die?
Exactly Tim. And no proof that many are even real families.
Everything? They don't have their PARENTS.
The one thing a child needs most of all.
Listen to this audio. LISTEN TO IT. Children sobbing hysterically after being wrenched from their parents at the border, saying the only words they may know, Mama and Papa. Do conservatives not have hearts? https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/563123/ Why do you act as if caring about children is somehow a left-wing trait? It is called basic human decency. I've heard from several Republican and conservative Moms the past couple of days who are sickened at the cruelty of what is being done to these children heartlessly by our government, whose parents merely tried to find a safe haven for them from gangs that are preying on children in central America, Their parents are not bad people, they are loving, caring parents trying desperately to save their children's lives. They have no other options. The gangs are murdering kids and families all across Central America. To say "send them home" is to say "just let them be killed. I don't care."
I for one tossed and turned all night after listening to this tape, and covering this issue this week. Any caring human being should care about these children, if not their parents, too..As a mother I cannot turn a blind eye to this evil. Trying to drag in false equivalencies over abortion is just diverting from the facts of what is happening to children already born. And any conservative who calls themselves "pro life" and fights for the rights of every fertilized egg the moment it's conceived, but turns their head away from the plight of these innocent children, is a hypocrite.
No other nation separates children from parents over border crossing issues. None that I've been able to find. Europe, Canada, Mexico, all have compassionate and humane policies for families while determing whether or not to allow them to stay under aslyum or some other law, or to deport them. But at least the kids fleeing violence to those countries aren't further traumatized like the little ones heard in the audio at our border, as border agents make callous jokes over the children's subs. LISTEN TO THIS. It should be mandatory for every American to hear their pain. https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/563123/
And look at the photo of this little girl, in such anguish as her parents are taken from her: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/06/18/i-wanted-t....
No child so young should ever be left alone. No amount of nice facilities around her can ever take away the pain, fear, and permanent psychological damage done by stealing her away from her parents.
There is only one other country that has done this in modern times: Nazi Germany. And there were "good Germans" like Hano there who were apologists for every terrible thing the Nazis did, brainwashed by an evil dictator who demonized immigrants and Jews and convinced his followers that all of the atrocities he committed were alright. They were not. And this is not. This is a violation of international human rights laws, as it should be. Every civilized nation on earth abides by those laws, except the U.S. It is a disgrace to humanity to have going on. This does not make America great. It makes America hate, and makes us hated around the world. Hano, what has happened to you in life to make you so hard-hearted and hateful toward innocent children?
For Christians, it is very clear what Jesus would want us to do: “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me." Read more: Luke 9:46-47 (also Mark 9:35-37). The actions being done by this government are in a word, wicked.
Fake News Alert!
Ever play the kids' game of telephone?
Where info gets changed slightly but not intentionally with each person in the chain?
That's pretty much what happened with that photo. It turns out the photographer who took it said the girl was upset at being taken from her mother and patted down by a Border Patrol agent. The photographer worried that this family could wind up separated. He didn't know their fate at the time he published the story, and was not dishonest with his publisher. By the time Getty sent it out lots of places, and each editor added their own headline or caption, and other media outlets reported based on what some of those other media sites reported, it got distorted.
It came out just yesterday that fortunately this particular child was not put in detention away from her mother. I'm glad for the sake of that child, and sorry that so many media outlets were provided inaccurate info.
However, the child's anguish and fear at being separated from her mother even momentarily for the pat-down by Border Patrol shows how traumatizing the whole process is for little kids; just imagine how much more traumatic it must be for the children who actually were taken away and still can't see mom or dad!
There is a tape of children crying out for their parents inside one of the detention facilities that a lawyer has said was made by the lawyer's client in the facility. Lawyers are bound by legal ethics rules and portions of that tape have been independently verified; for instance one child recited the phone number of her aunt. A journalist called the number and the aunt confirmed her niece is in the detention facility. So we know children are suffering from this policy, even if the one child in that photo was more fortunate than most, and was later allowed to be back with her mother.
Your nose continues to grow...
My comment is not false. She was pulled away from her mother,
for the pat-down by Border Patrol. So she was separated briefly from being held and comforted by her mother. She was distraught at having a stranger touching her and not knowing why she couldn't hold onto her mother. I did not state that she was separated. I stated that she was allowed to be back with her mother, meaning after the pat-down was over with at some point. I do not know exactly how much time went by before she was given back to the mother, or how long the interrogation may have lasted. But the recent report does make clear they were not sent to separate facilities.
In either case the girl was frightened and you seem to show zero sympathy for this girl or any of the other children who actually were taken away from parents and sent to other facilities, and now some parents aren't even being told where there children are. A judge voiced exasperation in court with the government admitting it did not keep records, leading the judge to note that even criminals convicted of crimes have all their belongings checked in when they are jailed for return later upon release, yet the government didn't apparently keep track of some of these children, so how will they ever be reunited? Where is your concern for any of that? You seem far more intent on blasting the media instead of blasting the cruelty and apaprent ineptitude of the administration's handling of thousands of children.
Your comment is absolutley false.
Stop the badgering.
I responded to your complaint. Barraging us with multiple repeat comments belabornig the same point is hogging the comments section. We don't want any one voice dominating the site.
Pulling her away from her mother for a patdown traumatized the child, obviously, regardless of how long she was out of her mother's arms. Stop splitting hairs. If you keep posting the same rant phrased a dozen different ways trying to make a mountain out of a holehill we'll block the account. It's fine to raise an issue and have us address the question, which has already been done, more than once. We can agree to disasgree on the phrasing, and let it go.
We have a handful of people who keep dominating comments or reposting under new pseudonyms after having accounts blocked for repeated rule violations. This is not fair to others here who wish to have their voices heard, too.
Then it’s Okay?
It’s okay then to have feelings of Compassion and Love for these people even if they aren’t U.S. Citizens? Is that what changed our Presidents mind on continuing to separate these kids from their Parents? I heard him say in Minneapolis last night that now they will come here by the millions and millions. Why doesn’t he do something to help those Countries that have so much violence so their people can live in less fear? Wouldn’t that be a better way to help address these ongoing and continuing issues?
Photo of a Child
Ecstatic that this Child wasn’t separated from her Mother! How about you?
Don’t worry our friend
Those of us who you so eagerly caterogize and despise will be there for you too. Rest assured!
There is no need to place everyone into the same category. We are all different just as not all Conservatives need to be put in the same bucket. You and others that support Trump don’t have to agree with everything this President says or promotes. Especially when it comes to hurting innocent children to achieve their ends. There’s no way to justify this with people that strive or claim to have a moral path in life, Conservative or Liberal. Otherwise you give your permission to someone else to act however they choose and in your name.
$4,000 a minute being raised to help reunite immigrant families:
They are raising money online for legal aid for parents separated from their children. Over $3 million has been donated by 78,000 people, and the legitimate organization benefitting from this has expressed deep gratitude.