Yoder sympathizes with separated immigrant children, but says parents place them in harm's way

Marc LaVoie
June 07, 2018 - 5:25 am

Getty Images - Alex Wong - Staff

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Federal border authorities in May arrested more than 50,000 people who crossed into the country illegally, the third month in a row that number was eclipsed.

The large number of arrests continue despite the Trump administration's announcement that it will continue to separate children from their illegal immigrant parents, who are incarcerated. Opponents from the ACLU say the policy "is brutal, offensive" and "shocks the conscience."

Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, defended the practice, saying the best way for immigrant families to remain united is to present themselves at a legal border crossing and make their case. He said children are not kept in cages, as has been reported; rather, they are given food, clean living conditions, education, recreation and healthcare.

"Individual children are separated from their parents only when those parents cross the border illegally," Azar told lawmakers while testifying before a House committee. "We can't have children with parents who are in incarceration."

Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, fresh from a tour of the Rio Grand Valley, said he sympathizes with the children and their parents. Yoder recently took over as chairman of the Appropriations for Homeland Security. 

The separated children are being taken from dangerous situations, Yoder said. During his fact-finding trip, Yoder heard more stories of children being separated from the parents before crossing the border. Illegal crossings are usually organized by violent drug cartels that charge each immigrant thousands of dollars, Yoder said.

"These aren't necessarily parents; in some cases, it's a minor that has been attached to an adult to get them across the border," Yoder said. "Not all of these cases are what you would think; these minors are being trafficked and being used."

A federal judge in California has ruled an ACLU class action lawsuit challenging the federal government's policy dealing wth children of undocumented immigrants can move forward. 

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