Nov 12, 2019

Record number of migrant children held in U.S custody in 2019

People protest holding children in custody in September in New York City. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

New government data shows that the U.S. government held 69,550 migrant children in custody in 2019, a 42% increase from fiscal year 2018, the AP reports.

Why it matters: UN researchers report that the U.S. detained more children than any other country in the world this year.

  • The number of children held by the government increased after the Trump administration lengthened the amount of time children can spend in detention and diverted more resources and money to detention facilities for its "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

By the numbers: Some children previously in government custody have been deported, while others have reunited with their parents in the U.S. Around 4,000 kids are still in custody, but more are arriving every week.

  • At least nine out of 10 come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Fewer than 3% are from Mexico. Central Americans often flee their countries due to threats of violence, abuse and murder.
  • Nearly 3,000 children were forcibly removed from their parents' custody, while an additional 1,556 migrant families were separated between July 2017 and June 2018, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: Jack Shonkoff, director of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, told the AP that being separated from parents can harm kids, especially young children.

  • "Stable and responsive relationships promote healthy brain architecture. ... If these relationships are disrupted, young children are hit by the double whammy of a brain that is deprived of the positive stimulation it needs, and assaulted by a stress response that disrupts its developing circuitry," Shonkoff said.

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DHS never had technology needed to track separated migrant kids

Photo: Tom Cooper/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) never had proper systems in place to keep track of separated migrant children under the "zero tolerance" policy, according to a new report from the agency's inspector general (IG).

Why it matters: Immigration officials knew about the tracking issues ahead of time and anticipated separating more than 26,000 children within a few months, but the policy was rolled out anyway. It took months for families to be reunited, causing thousands of kids to be traumatized. The IG could not confirm how many were impacted or whether all have been reunited.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019

Report finds infants and toddlers using screens in "high amounts"

Photo: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Children ages 1–3 years old are increasingly watching TV or using screen time in "high amounts," according to an analysis by the National Institutes of Health released Monday.

Why it matters: The World Health Organization and pediatric societies have recommended that preschool-age children get no more than one hour of screen time a day and should spend time being active. The average daily time spent using screens increased from 53 minutes at age 1 to more than 150 minutes at age 3, per the NIH.

Go deeperArrowNov 25, 2019

Apprehensions dwindle at southern border as fewer migrant families seek asylum

Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Officials apprehended more than 42,000 people at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, Customs and Border Patrol commissioner Mark Morgan said on Thursday, per CNN.

Why it matters: The number of apprehensions has continued to drop since its peak of 133,000 earlier this year. Morgan pointed to a 14% dip since September, CNN notes.

Go deeperArrowNov 15, 2019