Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Joe Did What? Carrizo Springs


Carrizo Springs after the Trump administration set it up for children in October 2019—nobody explains why they closed it after a month, perhaps it's because they'd succeeded in making all the children "Remain in Mexico" by that point. Via NBC News

There's a lot of frothing going on on the aspirational left over today's report by Sylvia Foster-Frau/Washington Post of the reopening of a facility for unaccompanied teenage asylum seekers at Carrizo Springs, TX, the first such place to be opened under the Biden administration, being regarded by everybody from Mehdi Hasan to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the return of the cages, which it isn't, let alone the return of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his concentration camps.

It's in fact a pretty good thing, and a sign of much better to come: a serious effort to not get overwhelmed the way the Obama administration did in 2014 by a surge in the number of kids struggling without their parents through Mexico to the border, and make sure that every kid gets as quickly as possible to the sponsors awaiting them, mostly family members already established in the US, and that their cases get heard while they're in a safe place.

That was the reason for the cages: from October 2013 to August 2014 66,000 children crossing the border without their parents and needing to be taken care of, and the government was not prepared for anywhere near that many. It was a bad thing, and it took way too long to fix, but they actually did their best (under a good deal of pressure from the media, no doubt) and eventually all the kids got placed and the story was over.

The Trump administration crisis of 2017 was totally different: it was a response to a massive influx of families crossing the border, many with really small children, not teenagers on their own or with coyotes, and the response of professional racists Sessions and Miller, perhaps planned during Miller's years as Sessions's top aide in the Senate, was the so-called "zero tolerance" policy of charging any adult crossing the border other than at an official checkpoint with a crime, refusing to hear their asylum claims, meaning they were throwing fathers and mothers in prison while the children had nowhere to go, so the administration parked them all where they could, including those cages, and might have completely forgotten about them if it hadn't been for the media pressure, and never did get things right because, as we always say, "the cruelty is the point." 

As you've probably heard, there are still a few hundred children from the zero-tolerance policy whose parents still aren't even located (ACLU and other volunteers have been doing all the work the Trump administration refused to do), and as you probably haven't heard, the average detention period of migrant children in this custody in 2020 was 120 days (the Flores Agreement that governs these matters by consent decree says they must be released from custody in fewer than 20 days). 

The current situation is more like 2014 than 2017: an influx of minors without parents, lured at least in part by the fact that the Trump administration is over, 5,700 kids in January alone, at a moment when the existing facilities are stressed much more than usual, because of the pandemic (they're under orders to cut crowding just like restaurants and movie theaters, in their case by 50%), and the Biden administration doesn't have a problem with that. Except, you know, logistical. 

They've reinstated the DACA program. They've established by executive order that asylum claims should be heard promptly

(i)   The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall promptly begin consultation and planning with international and non-governmental organizations to develop policies and procedures for the safe and orderly processing of asylum claims at United States land borders, consistent with public health and safety and capacity constraints.

and as the WaPo article notes
The administration also reversed some of Trump’s expulsion practices by accepting unaccompanied children into the country, a change that also is contributing to an increase of minors in government facilities, officials said.
not to mention that they submitted proposals for a bill to offer a range of paths to citizenship for all 11 million "illegals". The Biden administration is not looking for exotic ways of preventing asylum applications or torturing Central American teenagers. It's just really difficult, as it was in 2014, to put it together as well as they can—
putting children in permanent shelters is preferable to the influx shelters like Carrizo, but nearly half of those beds are unusable during the pandemic.

Seen from that standpoint. it should be fairly clear that what's going on at the Carrizo Springs site (originally constructed for oil workers) is not that bad:

Mark Weber — a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that oversees services for migrant children — said the Biden administration is moving away from the “law-enforcement focused” approach of the Trump administration to one in which child welfare is more centric.

At the 66-acre site, groups of beige trailers encircle a giant white dining tent, a soccer field and a basketball court. There is a bright blue hospital tent with white bunk beds inside. A legal services trailer has the Spanish word “Bienvenidos,” or welcome, on a banner on its roof. There are trailers for classrooms, a barber shop, a hair salon. The facility has its own ambulances and firetrucks, as well as its own water supply.

and is in fact designed to start from the Obama-era policy and Build It Back Better. It's going to take up to 30 days, at least initially, to get the kids out of there, which is more than 20, but it's not going to be 120 again. Calm down. (Redhand will correct me if I get any of this wrong, so stay tuned.)

No comments:

Post a Comment