WH rejected plan to pay mental health services for migrant families
The deal was allegedly refused byTrump senior advisor Stephen Miller, the mastermind behind many of the immigration policies
The Trump administration rejected a plan from the Department of Justice to provide mental health services for migrant children separated from their families.
Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller is the mastermind behind many of the president’s immigration policies, including family separations. The decision to refuse the settlement was made after a meeting with Miller, NBC News reports.
“DOJ strongly, and unanimously, supported the settlement, but not all agencies involved were on the same page,” an administration official said. “Ultimately, the settlement was declined at the direction of the White House counsel’s office.”
According to another administration official, “Ultimately, it was Stephen who prevailed. He squashed it.”
A White House official has denied that Miller killed the deal, stating: “Mr. Miller was not involved, and any suggestion that he was is false.”
theGRIO previously reported, lawyers are now of the belief that 666 parents of migrant children separated from their children at the border cannot be located, a figure much larger than originally suspected.
An anonymous source told NBC News that DOJ lawyers and pro bono attorneys from public interest law firms wanted to settle an agreement of $8 million to provide migrant families with counseling in October 2019. In addition to the mental health services, the agreement would have reunited families much sooner than planned.
“Many of these children thought their parents had deliberately abandoned them. The longer that trauma goes unredressed, the more severe the consequences,” said Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer with the pro bono public interest law firm Public Counsel representing the families. “We had a deal, a good deal. Everybody was feeling good about where we were. Then they came back and said no.”
Just last month, theGrio reported that attorneys appointed by a federal judge to locate these children believed they were unable to find 545 of the parents who were separated from their children. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union claimed two-thirds of those parents had been deported to Central America and there was no subsequent trace of their current location. Others may have returned to their home countries.
“What has happened is horrific,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, told NPR in October. “Some of these children were just babies when they were separated. Some of these children may now have been separated for more than half of their lives. Almost their whole life, they have not been with their parents.”
Data from the Customs and Border Protection between May and June 2018 shows that almost 3,000 children were separated from their parents. Miller wanted more separations to deter illegal immigration, according to multiple reports.
The White House’s refusal to accept a deal to provide mental health services to migrant familes separated at the border ended up costing taxpayers $6 million, the report states.
After months of legal back and forth over the issue, the nonprofit Seneca Family of Agencies was ultimately awarded a $14 million contract in March to provide counseling to migrant families.
“Reunification does not erase the trauma caused by the separation. It is just the first step in the healing process. The need to connect families to services is urgent, because when treatment is delayed, it may exacerbate and compound the trauma of the separation,” said Paige Chan, executive director of Seneca.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!