Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Official Who Oversaw Migrant Kids: Separation Causes Trauma
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 years ago on
February 8, 2019

Share

WASHINGTON — The Health and Human Services official responsible for helping to reunite families separated by the Trump administration said Thursday he had warned colleagues that separating children from their parents would cause lasting, serious psychological trauma.

“There is no evidence that HHS leaders ever tried to stop this abhorrent policy. As the agency dedicated to the health and welfare of children, we need to know why.” — Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat
Commander Jonathan White of the U.S. Public Health Service testified before a House subcommittee looking into the “zero-tolerance policy” last April that resulted in the separation of more than 2,700 children. He served as the deputy director for the office that oversees migrant children, and was brought back from another post to oversee reunification efforts.
The hearing reflected the priorities of newly empowered Democrats who took control of the House in January. Democrats were sharply critical of President Donald Trump’s family separation policy and though the policy has ended, they continue to press for answers about how it came to be.
“There is no evidence that HHS leaders ever tried to stop this abhorrent policy,” said subcommittee leader Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat. “As the agency dedicated to the health and welfare of children, we need to know why.”
White said he attended briefings on the possibility of separating children in 2017, but was told there was no policy in place. He said he learned of the zero tolerance policy from a news conference given by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
White said he was not aware that anyone the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services knew the policy was coming. White led the HHS effort to reunify children with their parents. The department made White available to the committee after HHS Secretary Alex Azar chose not to attend.
Health and Human Services agencies manage the care of migrant children in the U.S., including those separated from their parents at the border. The vast majority of children under their care, tens of thousands, cross the border alone.

Separations Were Met With Mass Outrage

“Separating children poses significant risk of traumatic psychological injury to the child,” White testified. He said neither he nor anyone he worked with “would ever have supported such a policy.”
The separations were met with mass outrage from religious leaders, lawmakers and health officials who called them inhumane. They were stopped June 20 when Trump issued an executive order. A federal judge ruled about a week later that the children had to be reunified with their parents.

“Separating children poses significant risk of traumatic psychological injury to the child.” — Commander Jonathan White of the U.S. Public Health Service
But there was no system in place to connect children to their parents, who were being held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. White said officials combed through thousands of records by hand to find children who had been separated.
The court ruling involved about 2,700 children separated under the zero-tolerance policy where parents were criminally prosecuted for illegally entering the U.S. The HHS internal watchdog said last month likely thousands more were separated starting in 2017, but because no specific separation records exist before the judge’s ruling, they can’t say for sure how many. Those children have already been released out to sponsors —in large part, parents or close relatives.
The government is allowed to separate children to protect the safety and security of the child if there are serious medical concerns, if the parent has a criminal history, if it’s unclear the person is a parent. White said there is no process for parents to appeal a separation.
The committee also heard from a doctors, a child psychologist and advocacy groups that helped children separated by the Trump administration.
Attorney Lee Gelernt from the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit that challenged the separations, said the policy was “the worst thing I’ve seen in my 25 years” of doing immigration and civil liberties work.

DON'T MISS

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

DON'T MISS

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

DON'T MISS

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

UP NEXT

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

UP NEXT

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

UP NEXT

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

UP NEXT

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

UP NEXT

Several Writers Decline Recognition From PEN America in Protest Over Its Israel-Hamas War Stance

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

UP NEXT

Tennessee Lawmakers Send Bill to Ban First-Cousin Marriages to Governor

UP NEXT

Instagram Blurs Nude Messages to Protect Teens, Fight Sexual Extortion

UP NEXT

Harvard Again Requiring Standardized Test Scores for Those Seeking Admission

UP NEXT

More Aid Is Supposed to Be Entering the Gaza Strip. Why Isn’t It Helping?

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

1 day ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

1 day ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

1 day ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

1 day ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

2 days ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

2 days ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

2 days ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

2 days ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

2 days ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

2 days ago

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

Last June, more than half of California’s lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike, with no particular ideological preference — attended ...

5 hours ago

5 hours ago

How California Legislators Got More Than $1.4 Million in Travel and Gifts in 2023

5 hours ago

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

14 hours ago

US Shoots Down Iran-Launched Attack Drones as Biden Team Pledges ‘Support’ for Israel

1 day ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

1 day ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

1 day ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

1 day ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

2 days ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend