Trump Is Locking Up and Threatening to Deport Children Based on Mere Suspicion of Gang Affiliation

Last week, flanked by police officers in Long Island, President Trump told a crowd of supporters his administration was getting rid of immigrant “animals” who were causing gang violence in their communities. “They’re going to jails,” Trump yelled, “and then they’re going back to their country. Or they’re going back to their country, period.”

But a closer look at who the Trump administration is actually targeting shows that these so-called “animals” are sometimes children who have not even been accused of any crime. Police from Suffolk County are collaborating with the Trump administration to target immigrant children for arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement when the police are “not in a position to make a criminal arrest.” This means that kids who the police department knows it does not have the evidence to criminally prosecute are nonetheless being summarily snatched up by ICE, torn from their communities, and shipped to jail-like facilities, hundreds or thousands of miles from their family and immigration lawyers.

Children from Suffolk County report being falsely labeled a gang member for wearing clothing with a Chicago Bulls logo, for playing soccer with suspected gang members, and for displaying the flag of their home country, El Salvador. This labeling appears to be the first step in a process that results in minors being snatched and whisked away to detention.

In many ways, this is history repeating itself. Back in the 1980s, the federal government held immigrant children with no criminal background in hot, crammed jail cells in remote facilities across the country. These egregious conditions prompted a federal lawsuit, Flores v. Reno, which resulted in a 1997 consent decree that remains in effect to this day.

Despite the lessons of history, the Trump administration is once again arbitrarily jailing children.

The Flores decree established several procedural protections for children to prevent their arbitrary detention, giving them, for example, the right to know why they were being placed in highly restrictive facilities and the right to challenge that placement with the help of counsel. Congress later followed suit and passed a 2008 law requiring that immigrant children be placed in the “least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child,” and that no child be placed in highly restrictive jail-like conditions unless the minor “poses a danger to self or others or has been charged with having committed a criminal offense.”

But at least nine children from Suffolk County are being held in highly restrictive detention based solely on unconfirmed suspicions that they are affiliated with gangs. Despite the lessons of history, the Trump administration is once again arbitrarily jailing children.

In a letter last week, the New York Civil Liberties Union warned the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which has custody of immigrant children, that placing minors in highly restrictive detention without adequate cause or process violates the agency’s obligations under the Flores consent decree and federal law.

One kid’s case stands out. Hector (a pseudonym) came to the U.S. alone when he was 14. Ironically enough, he fled his home country because a gang repeatedly threatened to kill him. After he entered the U.S., ORR screened him, found he was not a safety risk, and released him to his relative in Long Island. Now 16, Hector is in school and has a girlfriend.

In April, Hector and his girlfriend were leaving high school when two Suffolk County detectives stopped them. The detectives asked Hector and his girlfriend for their ID, then jotted down their names. One detective asked Hector if he was in a gang. When Hector said no, the detective lifted his shirt to look for gang tattoos. But Hector had none. The detective then made a gang sign to see if Hector recognized it. Apparently unsatisfied, the detectives told Hector and his girlfriend to move along, and no one from Suffolk police has bothered Hector since.

They didn’t have to.

In July, ICE officials showed up at Hector’s job. They arrested him and gave him to ORR, which placed him in a facility over a thousand miles away from his home. Hector and his immigration lawyer never had the chance to contest his placement before he was shipped off. In fact, after over a week, his lawyer and his family still don’t know the facility he is being held in despite the lawyer’s repeated attempts to find out.

Recently, a social worker from ORR called Hector’s relative to say Hector is being held somewhere in Texas and that ORR officials do not think he is gang affiliated. But ORR is still holding him because the Suffolk detectives who stopped him three months ago suspect he is.

Hector is one of several examples of the “animals” that Trump and his administration are targeting for jail and deportation based on nothing more than unconfirmed suspicions.

We won’t let him get away with it.

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Anonymous

I didn't realize that the Federal Government was obliged to "have a good reason" for deporting an illegal immigrant. I was under the impression that immigration law was reason enough.

Silly me.

Anonymous

Trust in me. This is all an act sending gangs backto mexico. They will remain here. At least the ones in nyc. They want Prisioners. They make 200000 per year on each Prisioners. This is an act so nobody knows that they love love gangs. Gangs create jobs and pay a lot of salaries in this country. So little Pablo. Don't worry it's all a cover up. You'll be allowed to stay. Your worth two hundred grand. Who wouldn't want little Pablo in the system. Cities love you pablito. Trust in me. Pablito stay out of trouble and then they will deport you. Love this system. Not.

Anonymous

Aclu: Trump and ICE are doing ok, you do not have an idea how this little people behave, you need to investigate more, they look sweet but really are bastards, delinquents, that come to damage USA. Just look whose are his peers. A good student is not fooling around. Read what you wrote: "for playing soccer with suspected gang members, and for displaying the flag of their home country, El Salvador"

Anonymous

You need to watch how you judge people disgusting individuals like you ,don't deserve to walk this planet this country is filled with your trash and you can't say your Christians because if you were you would know only God judge's modes killed people and God gave him awesome powers. To try and save Crap like you. But it didn't work. Everyone wants to be God. Leave people alone before one day your charms hits you in the ass

Roger Meurer

You think they're so innocent, take them into YOUR homes instead of trying to keep them running on OUR streets! So sick of you asses protecting illegal alien invaders of our country and telling the citizens to just accept the gangs, tapes, assaults, and murders! But I guess it's easy to protect these criminals when they aren't committing their crimes against your families or your elitist asses, right?

Anonymous

Gangs hurt gangs. They might steal at times but they hardly show them hurting innocent people. Gangs aside. Mexicans are harder workers than you if they were told yo build highways with their bait hands while you would worry about how much you get paid and feel your help is worth more money. So the highways wouldn't get built until Crap like you proud American only for a dollar only for cash agrees on the salary to build the highways even if we were in desperate need to help America in a construction sense these Mexicans would work harder if given the opportunity. Your kind only cares about yourselves. I would make jobs available and keep them here. They have more heart than you do. Some jobs I agreeamericans loose if there's too many illegals we need everyday jobs too. But construction jobs. These Mexicans work their hands to the bone and respect their bosses while Americans rush to lunch or Friday pay etc they work overtime and don't mind. So be proud of being Mexican people out there some kids become gangsters to save their own lives. I hope they get jobs and stop fighting for no cause. Join a group a fight for a better world instead. There's a lot of idiots like these who write against you. To beat with peace and knowledge. Let them be glad that's all I pray for. Someone other might let him feel it in other ways. Mexican men have pride like American men. Let Mexicans be already. They are people too. No I'm not mexican

Anonymous

If they committed a crime against you. Then it's ok to be angry. But cops kill more innocent people than gangs. Gangs kill gangs they love to hurt one another it's like a sport to them. Hardly hear of them hurting outside their box. They don't hate you or cops they hate each other. Now cops not all but stupid ones killed a 90 year old man during a traffic stop. They shot a man 7 times for a traffic stop can't even reach for our papers to show them without getting 7 bullets into you another man didn't speak English so he pulled out a wallet to show them. And received 40 bullets yes 40 bullets . I pray for gangsters to stop idiot ears and March for change and kick some butt this way. But there's so many so called evil with the mouth in this country wishing death instead of change. That it's a hell of a mission. Let's ask for help against Isis that is targeting children and families in the world because armies are killing their wives and kids. So their getting even with America and other places. Stop saying if crimes happened to us a lot of their hatred is because something was done to them or their families and they got lost in the hate. Try to kind of understand situations. And if anyone hurt you. I'm sorry I was hurt too but understand the world is not how we want to run it. We could only run ourselves to the best of our ability and ask God to help us all

Anonymous

yet your so proud that soldiers are ordered to kill woman and children in iraq. because they might grow up to be terrorist. that's why Isis is flipping out. I love America but not some ways is being governed. not all Mexicans r trouble and a lot do things for survival. put yourself in their shoes for a second. God judges all. and we should leave it to who sees everything to judge.tell Trump to help the 800.000 abducted children in America. their crying for help before their killed. that's what I ask for and nobody listens nobody cares about those little angels that couldn't harm a fly. where is Trump for them. that's a serious issue. spread the word to help them. they make me cry. God bless. And give us strength to fight for what really matters

Anonymous

If they are illegal they need to be deported....if we Americans break the law we go to jail we are punished why is it these illegals are here illegal and are breaking the law and idiots think they should ntp be punished nor deported excuse me but some are very messed up...all you people saying they should ntp be punished go break the law and see what happens...Americans are punished on the spot...think before opening you mouth saying they should not be punished...they all should be punished and deported they are ILLEGALS

Anonymous

Why does a flu support anyone who thinks braking laws is ok? Just fallow the rules come here correctly. But mad now that you are seen a possible criminal, when your first act here was to break the law.

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