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Images of young boys behind chainlink fences and a report that the government lost track of almost 1,500 minors have sparked outrage over the U.S.'s treatment of child immigrants, but some criticism has missed the mark.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, fiscal years 2012-16, 2017, and 2018; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Between the lines: There are three unrelated concerns. But only one — the separation of children from their parents — is a trend that began with the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

1. Separating of children from their parents

The Trump administration announced that they would begin prosecuting anyone who crosses the U.S. border illegally as part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions "zero-tolerance" policy. This will lead to more children being separated from the parents who will face prosecution. Sessions has said, "If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally."

2. 1,500 lost children

There have been reports that Health and Human Services lost track of almost 1,500 children who crossed the border as unaccompanied minors. After being apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol, these 0-17 year olds who cross into the U.S. without their parents are sent to HHS, which places them, most often, with family already in the U.S.

  • Why it matters: 30 days after placing a child with a "sponsor," HHS calls the sponsor. There have been 1,475 cases in which the sponsor did not answer that phone call, HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan told Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday, arguing that it does not mean those children are "lost."
  • Yes, but: In 2014, there were some cases of children accidentally being placed in human trafficking situations; a Senate report found 6 children who were forced to work long hours on an egg farm.

In a call with reporters on Tuesday morning, DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffmann and HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary Stephen Wagner said the two agencies are working to set up a system that would better ensure the safety of children placed with sponsors, which would include fingerprint tracking of sponsors.

3. Prison-like child immigrant detention centers

This image is from 2014, when the Obama administration faced a surge of unaccompanied minors and family units from Central America and created short term detention centers to house them. (Read more about how Trump inherited a surge in Central American asylum seekers.)

Twitter

Yes, but: Children are still often temporarily detained when they cross the border unaccompanied and families are most often sent to three facilities: the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas, and Berks Family Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, which have had reputations of poor, prison-like conditions, according to the American Immigration Council.

Go deeper

Ubisoft admits its handling of misconduct lost some workers' trust

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Ubisoft, IGDB

Ubisoft management is acknowledging that its initial response to an ongoing and wide-reaching workplace misconduct scandal was flawed, even as it argues that its corrective actions were largely swift and correct.

Why it matters: Those comments, in an exclusive interview with Axios, come amid recent pushback from workers that the publisher of Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance hasn’t sufficiently addressed a cascade of #MeToo allegations since mid-2020.

Prosecutors “haven’t ruled out” charging school officials in Michigan shooting

Michigan school officials had the legal grounds to search alleged shooter Ethan Crumbley's backpack and locker but did not to do so, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald told CNN Monday.

Catch up quick: Crumbley has been charged with numerous felony counts related to terrorism and murder after opening fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and wounding seven other people.

Updated 12 seconds ago - Energy & Environment

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.

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