Gov. Inslee: Trump admin won’t reunite all migrant families, will place some kids in foster care

"I've seen coat check windows operate with a better system."

Screenshot of All In with Chris Hayes
Screenshot of All In with Chris Hayes

The Trump administration does not intend to reunite all migrant families they’ve separated and might place some kids in foster homes, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee (D) said following a conference call with administration officials.

Inslee was part of a conference call with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar last week, who provided an update on Trump administration efforts to reunite the families it separated as part of a “zero tolerance” policy it says it has now abandoned.

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Inslee said Friday he was dismayed to learn that not only was little progress made in reuniting migrant parents and their children, but that officials would not even commit to making an effort to doing so.

“The secretary told us on a conference call that they do not have any intention to reunify these children with their parents. They are going to call it good if they could find anyone else to serve as a foster parent or might have some familial relationship,” Inslee told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes late Friday, when he asked about a June 29 meeting mentioned in a letter addressed to officials on Friday.

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“Perhaps we should not be surprised. This whole indignant and traumatic episode was based in inhumanity at the beginning, it was based on deceit in middle, and now it’s based on incompetence. These people have no idea what they are doing — I’ve seen coat check windows operate with a better system.”

Washington is one of 17 states, along with the District of Columbia, that is suing the Trump administration, in a bid to immediately reunite kids with parents from whom they were separated at the southwest border.

Inslee and five other Democratic governors sent a letter to the Trump administration on Friday, attempting to learn more about the children still separated.

Earlier this week, attorneys general representing the states asked a Seattle based federal judge to expedite discovery in the case, because the government did not turn over key information regarding the reunification process after repeated requests, according to the Washington Post.

The Trump administration’s reunification process so far has been chaotic, riddled with hiccups. Officials admitted they don’t know approximately how many kids in total were rendered “unaccompanied” by prosecuting asylum-seeking parents for illegal (re)entry. And the government has even needed to swab the cheeks of kids in their custody to help identify their parents through DNA tests because this information wasn’t properly recorded.

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In a parallel lawsuit over family separation, a San Diego based federal judge is weighing whether to grant the Trump administration an extension on its court-mandated deadline to reunify kids under five with their parents by Tuesday and all the rest by the end of July.

In a court conference call on Friday, the government said it is holding 101 children under the age of five, and hasn’t been able to locate the parents for 16 of those kids yet. Of the 86 parents identified, 46 are in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention, 19 were released into the U.S., and 19 were deported. The judge said officials were responsible for reuniting all families — regardless of whether their parents were deported or not.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which has custody over “unaccompanied” migrant kids, was treating kids separated from their parents like ones who migrated to the U.S. alone, saying it would place any kids with vetted sponsors, who could be parents or relatives, or in long-term foster care.

But this was before a San Diego federal judge issued a preliminary injunction last week to immediately reunite kids with their parents by court-mandated deadlines. It’s unclear whether placing kids in foster care violates that court order.