In March of 2017, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about a possible new initiative separating children from their parents at the border. “I would do almost anything to deter the people from Central America from getting on this very, very dangerous network that brings them up through Mexico to the United States … The vast majority of the young women are sexually abused,” he said.
Blitzer pressed Kelly to clarify: “If you get some young kids who manage to sneak into the United States with their parents, are Department of Homeland Security personnel going to separate the children from their moms and dads?”
“We have tremendous experience with unaccompanied minors,” Kelly responded. “We turn them over to HHS and they do a very good job in putting them in foster care or linking them up with family members in the United States. Yes, in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network I’m considering exactly that. They will be well cared for as we deal with their parents.”
A little over a year later, we’re seeing that “tremendous experience” playing out real time, with lawmakers and Americans reacting viscerally to the news that nearly 2,000 children were taken from their parents and put into facilities or foster care in six weeks between April and May. New audio released by ProPublica of children screaming for their mothers and fathers is excruciating, and impossible to sit through comfortably.