Updated Jul 27, 2018

Why the failure to reunite families is not just an immigration issue

A woman, Maria, is reunited with her son, aged 4, at the El Paso International Airport after being separated for one month. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

The July 26 federal court deadline for the Trump administration to return more than 2,500 migrant children (aged 5–17) to their families has come and gone, and it is clear that the administration has fallen short of full reunification. According to a July 26 California district court filing, the administration has reunited only slightly more than half (1,442 of 2,551) the separated children with their families.

The big picture: The debate around family reunification failure is often perceived as one between restrictive and open immigration standards, but that is not the central issue. Rather, the question is to what extent the U.S. government should uphold a standard of competence and a commitment to basic human dignity in carrying out all its policy positions.

The details: The July 26 filing also indicated that more than 700 children had been classified as ineligible for reunification or "not available for discharge at this time." Poor record-keeping and a lack of clear process from the initial stages have made it prohibitively difficult to find some families and reunite small children, some of whom are younger than five.

The U.S. government has a responsibility to execute its functions — regardless of the particular policy in play — in an effective manner, which includes basic record-keeping as well as effective and clear communication with those impacted by policies. Likewise, in view of its history of championing human rights, the U.S. holds a moral and ethical responsibility to treat all people in the country — citizens or not — with basic human dignity.

The bottom line: The government can carry out tighter or looser immigration standards without sacrificing efficacy or violating human rights. These traditionally are not considered variables contingent on policy, but rather the premises upon which U.S. democracy operates.

Nicole Bibbins Sedaca is a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

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NYC races to build field hospitals as coronavirus death toll tops 1,000

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces at the USTA Bille Jean King tennis center that the venue will be transformed into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference Tuesday of plans to triple hospital bed numbers to combat the novel coronavirus by transforming facilities into makeshift hospitals — including U.S. Open tennis courts.

The big picture: The city now accounts for a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday morning. De Blasio said the city had "about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals" before the outbreak. "We now need to, in just the next weeks ... produce three times that number," he said.

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 859,556 — Total deaths: 42,332 — Total recoveries: 178,300.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 189,510 — Total deaths: 4,076 — Total recoveries: 7,109.
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  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City alone, per Johns Hopkins data. The number of deaths are still much lower than those reported in Italy, Spain and China.

Of note: Hours earlier, President Trump noted it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

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