Top ICE official: Migrant detention facilities are 'like summer camp’

Crowds March Through New York City to Protest Border Separations

Crowds March Through New York City to Protest Border Separations

Top US immigration officials skirted a number of questions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing as lawmakers grilled them Tuesday over family separations at the US border.

Politicians from both parties agree that President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that separated thousands of families along the southern border was a failure.

"The deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants" Rights Project, Lee Gelernt, however, was stunned by Albence's comparison. They have educational opportunities.

"They have extensive medical, dental and mental health opportunities", Albence continued. "There's basketball courts, there's exercise classes, there's soccer fields that we put in there".

Such statements drew the ire of lawmakers like Sen.

Jonathan White, a senior U.S. Public Health Service official, told Congress that the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), where he worked until March 2018, had "raised a number of concerns" about the proposed policy in the year preceding its implementation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and DHS' Nielsen implemented the policy in earnest in May. "We'd get blamed", Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee chairman.

Trump has gotten some wall money from Congress, and likely will get more, though the total is short of the $25 billion he has requested.

The most stunning revelation: the Department of Health and Human Services official who's been heading up reunifications said he'd warned about the dangers of family separation over the past year. Of the more than 2,500 children separated from their families, Grassley said that nearly a third - approximately 711 - are still in government custody and are unable to be reunited with their parents.

ICE uses a court-approved form that documents decisions by some parents to leave the USA without their children.

CORRECTION: Jonathan White's title has been corrected in this story. But he said he was assured the government was not planning to implement the practice.

White was among five federal officials testifying before the Republican-controlled committee.

On Thursday, the government said it had reunited 1,442 children with their parents, while hundreds of children are still separated from their families. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, told Carla Provost, acting chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, that wristbands used to track children at Chuck E. Cheese's restaurants worked better than the government's system.

Trump began a policy of "zero tolerance" this spring, prosecuting all migrants caught entering the USA without authorization. "Those children who have been returned to their parents will face psychological scars that may never heal, and over 700 children, who entered this country with a family member, remain alone in shelters all over the country without a discernible plan to reunite them now, or ever".

In a meeting at the White House last week, GOP leaders conveyed to Trump that they were on track to approve more than half of the government spending bills before September 30, leaving more controversial matters - including the wall - until after the election. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, if he would send his own children to the "summer camp" detention center he described, Albence said she was missing the point. The agreement requires the government to place children in the "least restrictive" setting appropriate to their age and any special needs. "It's not your fault that Congress hasn't come up with a more sensible system", said Sen.

'You told the administration that kids would suffer as a result? Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of IL said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen should resign and that someone "has to accept responsibility" for policies that show "the extremes this administration will go to". It would also prevent the deportation of parents until the child's case before an immigration judge is resolved, ending either in a deportation order or legal status in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw had become "exasperated" with the slow pace of reunifications and expressed his frustration during a July 16 court hearing. Government officials defended this practice, saying they provided the drugs only on "an emergency basis" when a child's "extreme psychiatric symptoms" became risky. Some migrants separated from their children have said they did not understand what they were signing.

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