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Immigration Law

At Senate Hearing, Feds Double Down on 'Summer Camp' Baby Jails for Refugee Kids

Tal Kopan, CNN, Sept. 18, 2018 - "A senior Trump administration official on Tuesday stood by his controversial comments comparing the detention centers for immigrant families to "summer camp," but declined to answer whether he'd send his own children there.  The remarks came at a congressional hearing where immigration and border security officials struggled to answer foundational questions from senators about the administration's push to expand the detention of immigrant families and children. ... Democrats... pressed the officials on why they'd want to expand family detention and child detention despite widely held beliefs among medical professionals that even short periods of detention can inflict permanent and devastating trauma on children. Though the hearing did not include the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the government's program for immigrant children who are in the US on their own, senators also asked about the ongoing fallout over family separations and unaccompanied child detention.  Members of both parties pressed as to why the agencies were not pursuing other measures with bipartisan support that could streamline the immigration court system over an expensive effort to vastly expand family detention. ... The officials also said they were not familiar with medical professionals' assessments that detention is harmful to children, nor could they say whether the administration had weighed that in its policy development.  Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire asked Albence and Perez if they were aware of a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that "even brief detention can cause psychological trauma and induce long-term mental health risks for children."  Albence said he had only "seen media reports" about it; Perez said he was not aware of it.  Both officials also said they were not familiar with a whistleblower letter from the DHS's own medical professionals that concluded there's a high risk to children in detention that "no amount of programming can ameliorate." "