Lazy Saturday Reads: Where Are The Children? And Where is Melania?

About two dozen people, mostly Guatemalan parents and their children, waiting to seek asylum in the U.S., in Nogales. Arizona

Good Afternoon!!

Trying to survive the Trump administration is so exhausting and overwhelming. I know I’m far from alone in these feelings. But how much longer can we go on like this? Trump is a master of gaslighting, and he never hesitates to escalate his lies and his efforts to pull all of us down the rabbit hole with him.

Yesterday was a terrible day, as Americans woke up to the horror that Trump is perpetrating on people seeking asylum in our country–ripping parents from their children and then either losing track of the children or even handing them over to human traffickers. PBS Frontline:

Steven Wagner, the acting assistant secretary of the agency’s Administration for Children and Families, faced a barrage of questions from senators on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations over why HHS does not track unaccompanied minors who fail to appear at their immigration court hearings. The agency has faced increased scrutiny following a scathing 2016 report from the committee that found it failed to protect unaccompanied minors from traffickers and other abuses.

Claudia Gómez González, a young woman from Guatemala, was shot in the head by a border patrol agent near Laredo, TX, yesterday.

“It’s just a system that has so many gaps, so many opportunities for these children to fall between the cracks, that we just don’t know what’s going on — how much trafficking or abuse or simply immigration law violations are occurring,” said the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Rob Portman.

In 2014, at least 10 trafficking victims, including eight minors, were discovered during a raid by federal and local law enforcement in Portman’s home state of Ohio. As FRONTLINE examined in the recent documentary Trafficked in America, HHS had released several minors to the traffickers. The committee said the case was due to policies and procedures that were “inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care.”

After unaccompanied minors arrive in the United States, often to reunite with family members or to flee violence or poverty in their home countries, they are typically transferred from border patrol or customs officers to the custody of HHS, which often reunites the minors with a relative or another sponsor. The department is supposed to place check-in phone calls 30 days after a minor’s placement, but during the hearing, Wagner acknowledged gaps in that system.

Between October 2016 and December 2017, he said, the agency was unable to locate almost 1,500 out of the 7,635 minors that it attempted to reach — or about 19 percent. Over two dozen had run away, according to Wagner, who said the agency did not have the capacity to track them down.

This morning, Trump was gaslighting again, blaming Democrats for what his ICE agents are doing.

Two responses:

I’m going with Susan Simpson. Trump is have one of his patented public tantrums, threatening to hurt children and their families until he gets his way. This man is evil.

In case you missed it, here is a video report from Chris Hayes’s show last night.

Without a doubt, this is the most important story for Americans to know about. This is being done in our name, and we must stop it. This is what Hitler did, as he gradually dehumanized Jews, referring to them as “vermin.” Trump is doing that too–calling refugees and immigrants “animals.” Check out this solid read here. Some in the media have tried to excuse Trump by claiming he was only referring to gang members; but it’s clear he means all immigrants. From the Washington Post:

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately.

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

Jews were forced to wear yellow stars. Trump is forcing parents who have just had their children torn from them to wear yellow bracelets.

Alma Jacinto covered her eyes with her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks.

The 36-year-old from Guatemala was led out of the federal courtroom without an answer to the question that brought her to tears: When would she see her boys again?

Jacinto wore a yellow bracelet on her left wrist, which defense lawyers said identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program for illegal border crossers.

Moments earlier, her public defender asked the magistrate judge when Jacinto would be reunited with her sons, ages 8 and 11. There was no clear answer for Jacinto, who was sentenced to time served on an illegal-entry charge after crossing the border with her sons near Lukeville on May 14.

We should be protesting in the streets until someone in Trump’s orbit convinces him the policy is hurting him. We know he has no shame, and we know John Kelly has no shame; but surely there is someone around Trump who isn’t a raging psychopath.

Nickolas Kristof wrote on April 25: Why Does Trump Treat Immigrant Kids Cruelly? Because He Can.

A lifetime ago, Anne Frank’s family applied for visas to the United States to escape Hitler, but we rejected the Franks and other desperate Jewish refugees. We thought: This is Europe’s problem, not ours, and we don’t want to be overrun by “those people.”

Today President Trump is again slamming the door on desperate refugees. Indeed, the Trump administration is going a step further by wrenching children from the arms of asylum-seekers, apparently as a way of inflicting gratuitous cruelty to discourage new arrivals.

José Demar Fuentes, a 30-year-old college graduate, arrived in November with his 1-year-old son, Mateo, from El Salvador, where Fuentes was on a gang’s execution list, according to his lawyer, Noreen Barcena. Father and son entered the United States legally, presenting themselves to an immigration officer, providing birth certificates and other documentation, and requesting asylum to save their lives.

Several days later, immigration officers came and took Mateo.

“They basically pried my client’s son from his arms and told him that he had to give up his son,” Barcena told me. “They were both crying.”

Esteban Pastor, 29, hoped Border Patrol agents would free him and his 18-month-old son while they fought their deportation case. Instead the father was imprisoned for crossing the border illegally and his toddler was placed in federal foster care. For months, Pastor said he didn’t know what had happened to his son and he was deported to Guatemala without him last October (Houston Chronicle).

This cannot stand. I hope Robert Mueller is getting ready for more indictments, and that he has carefully planned ahead for the day when Trump finds a way to get rid of him. People who have worked with him say he likely has reports prepared to release and other prosecutors who can carry on the fight.

The latest stories on the Trump/Russia front, in case you haven’t already read them:

Michael Isakoff at Yahoo News: ‘Trump’s son should be concerned’: FBI obtained wiretaps of Putin ally who met with Trump Jr.

Wired: Former Trump Campaign Aide: My Russia Ties Are Not Nefarious!

Politico: Manafort’s ex-son-in-law’s attorneys quit over unpaid bills and ‘lack of candor.’

CNN: Russian oligarch met with Michael Cohen at Trump Tower during transition.

Mother Jones: Roger Stone to Associate: “Prepare to Die.”

Jack Shaeffer at Politico: Week 53: Trump Goes Spy Hunting and Gets Skunked.


Has anyone seen Melania Trump? Where is she? “She hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks.” The Washington Post:

First lady Melania Trump, who spent five nights in the hospital following a kidney procedure, has been out of public view for 15 days running — an unusually long absence even for a first lady who relishes life outside the spotlight.

The first lady was last seen on May 10 standing alongside her husband at Joint Base Andrews as the couple greeted three Americans who had been released from prison in North Korea. On May 14, the White House announced that she had undergone a successful embolization procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to treat a benign kidney condition.

Although medical experts have said the kind of procedure the first lady had typically requires only a night’s hospitalization, White House and East Wing aides have said nothing more about her condition and instead asked for privacy.

Someone on Twitter said she had gone from the hospital to her parents’ home in Maryland. I don’t know if that’s true, but Trump claims she’s in the White House now.

Friday morning, a reporter shouted a question to the president about a his wife’s whereabouts as he prepared to board Marine One to attend the Naval Academy commencement.

According to a pool report, President Trump responded by pointing to a window in the White House residence, and said: “She’s doing great. She’s looking at us right there.”

Reporters turned to look at the spot he indicated, but there was no sign of the first lady.

What’s going on? From The Palmer Report (yes, I know it’s sort of a gossip site): Melania Trump has gone missing.

Melania Trump is missing. There’s no other way to put it. She disappeared into the hospital under suspicious circumstances, the White House ended up refusing to explain what was going on, Donald Trump then claimed she had returned home, and no one has seen her since. Now a particularly bizarre stunt today by Donald Trump raises even more questions about where Melania is, and why….

Something serious is going on, and if it were the kind of health issue they could talk about, they’d just tell us. Instead the White House claimed Melania was going to be in the hospital for multiple days for a “kidney procedure” that shouldn’t have taken that long. Then, when she was still missing in action after the initially stated timeframe had come and gone, the White House refused to answer the media’s questions about whether she was even still in the hospital. Now it’s gotten even weirder, thanks to her husband….

it’s fair to assume he’s lying about Melania being in the White House at all. Where the heck is she? Why is she hiding? Whatever has happened to her, it’s the kind of thing that the White House clearly can’t talk about.

If the Washington Post is asking questions and publishing stories about this, other outlets will soon be doing the same, and the White House is going to have to explain her absence from public view. I hope Barron is OK.

So . . . what do you think? What stories have you been following?

14 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Where Are The Children? And Where is Melania?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice long weekend, Sky Dancers. I’m hoping Trump will go away somewhere and play golf and leave us alone for a couple of days. I just wish he wouldn’t come back.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • quixote says:

      Man oh man, I know just how he feels. I’ve been struggling for years with the feeling that I’m being a “good German” while the place where I pay taxes bombs people to rubble, tortures, detains prisoners without trial. And now this.

      I just don’t know what to do. It feels like there’s no point doing something ineffective and symbolic. And there is nothing else.

      Studs Terkel said it long ago: the first tool of dictators is to make you feel helpless. They’re succeeding all too well with me!

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    Taking Children from Their Parents Is a Form of State Terror

    By Masha GessenMay 9, 2018

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m bringing up some older links here as an fyi
      U.S. Placed Immigrant Children With Traffickers, Report Says

      The Department of Health and Human Services placed more than a dozen immigrant children in the custody of human traffickers after it failed to conduct background checks of caregivers, according to a Senate report released on Thursday.

      Examining how the federal agency processes minors who arrive at the border without a guardian, lawmakers said they found that it had not followed basic practices of child welfare agencies, like making home visits.

      The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations opened its inquiry after law enforcement officials uncovered a human trafficking ring in Marion, Ohio, last year. At least six children were lured to the United States from Guatemala with the promise of a better life, then were made to work on egg farms. The children, as young as 14, had been in federal custody before being entrusted to the traffickers.

      Increasing this kind of situation is not going to do anything but get kids into horrible situations and worse.

    • dakinikat says:

      The Trump administration called immigrant children future criminals on the same day Border Patrol was accused of sexually and physically abusing child detainees.

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. NW Luna says:

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    B.B. I think this tweet sums up the Melania mystery