Customs and Border Protection(CBP)officials have separated illegal immigrant children from their families during Joe Biden’s presidency, despite Biden’s prior attacks against former President Donald Trump for doing the same, according to a report filed in a federal court in Los Angeles on Friday.
Paul H. Wise, a pediatrician and juvenile care monitor in the long-running case of Flores v. Meese, submitted a report to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Friday that claimed children who entered the country illegally were being separated from their parents, which he learned after conducting inspections of intake facilities along the U.S. border with Mexico in August. Wise’s findings come despite Biden and congressional Democrats having strongly criticized the Trump administration for engaging in the practice, with Biden having vowed to prevent the separation of migrant children from their families during his presidency. (RELATED: Biden’s Border Admissions Program Is Leading To Family Separations)
“[S]ome children who were apprehended with their parents were being held separately in pods devoted to [unaccompanied children]. Site visits found that both boys and girls were being held separately, some as young as 8 years of age,” Wise wrote in his report. “Separated children included girls separated from mothers and boys separated from their fathers. None of the interviewed children had visited with their parents since they were separated, including children who had been separated for 4 days. Most of the children were not aware of any protocols that would allow them to request a visit with their parents.”
CBP claimed that the separations were “necessary to avoid overcrowding of family holding pods and that there was available space in the [unaccompanied children] holding pods,” according to Wise’s report. “The observed separation of children from their parents while in CBP custody raises important concerns regarding CBP compliance with the Settlement,” Wise opined.
Wise refers to the Flores Settlement Agreement reached in a class action lawsuit between the attorneys representing many migrant children, joined by immigrant rights groups, and the U.S. government in 1997, regarding the treatment of illegal immigrant children in federal custody. Jenny Flores, the primary plaintiff who was 15 years old in 1985, the year litigation began, filed the suit after being detained in a federal facility for months pending deportation proceedings to El Salvador, without access to education and other child-specific support.
The agreement, which is periodically reviewed by the federal judiciary, prohibits the detention of children for more than 20 days and governs the conditions of their release to a close relative or family member in the United States.
President Joe Biden had called family separations under the Trump administration a “human tragedy,” and signed an executive order in February of 2021 to create a task force for uniting families that were separated. “[It] violates every notion of who we are as a nation,” Biden said during the third 2020 presidential debate against Trump.
The separations under Trump occurred following the adoption of a “zero-tolerance” policy for illegal immigration by then- Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018, where all illegal immigrants were criminally charged under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a) for crossing the border without permission — leading to separation of charged adults from their children while in custody, per standard criminal procedure. The policy was later rescinded by Trump a few months later, after significant opposition following news coverage of the practice.
The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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