Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis called President Trump’s executive order Wednesday ending the separation of migrant children and their parents “nothing more than a reality show sham.”
“This administration continues to use traumatized children as pawns to further the president’s anti-immigrant agenda,” Solis said in a statement. “This executive order simply perpetuates this White House’s anti-family and inhumane approach to immigrants and immigration reform.”
Her remarks came one day after the five supervisors voted to send a letter to the Trump administration and Congress formally opposing the policy and urging that no funding be approved for the prosecution of parents with children seeking asylum at the border.
Solis said the motion adopted Tuesday remains in effect following the executive order, noting that the administration has no plans to begin reuniting the more than 2,300 children who have been separated from their parents thus far.
The supervisors also directed county agencies to request permission to visit shelters and assist children who were separated from their parents and could possibly be placed with relatives in L.A. County.
“Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer to immigration reform,” said Solis, who authored the motion.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the motion’s coauthor, called the policy “despicable.”
“And to try to justify it through the Bible or through the law makes it even more despicable,” she said. “There is nothing illegal about seeking asylum.”
All five members of the board supported Tuesday’s motion, including its lone Republican, Kathryn Barger, who has sometimes disagreed with Solis on immigration matters.
“I understand that we are a nation of laws and everyone should abide by the laws, but I stand firm in my belief that we are a nation of compassion and virtue,” Barger said.
Supervisor Janice Hahn added an amendment to urge funding for more asylum judges to deal with a massive backlog in the immigration courts, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas added one directing the county’s Health Agency to participate in any shelter visits and to provide trauma-informed care to affected children.
Only half a dozen people testified in response to the motion, but the remarks were at times heated.
“Our children should not be used as policy to further this administration’s racist and xenophobic agenda,” said Maria Magaña of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.
Defending the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, Darrell Kruse blamed Democrats for failing to accomplish federal immigration reform.
“We need to protect our borders, build a wall, put up some regulations to stop all these invaders. It’s funny that these parents would do this to their children,” Kruse said, eliciting loud boos from the audience.
Another speaker suggested that children were victims of sex trafficking across the border and that parents couldn’t prove the children who were being separated belonged to them, although the incidence of such fraud is less than 1%.
Besides the letter to the administration and Congress, the motion directed the county’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to request permission to visit shelters in L.A. County where immigrant children have been sent and to offer them and their family members county services.
Local and state governments do not have jurisdiction over children in federal custody. The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement typically identifies a parent, relative sponsor, shelter or group home where a child can be placed.
The county’s Department of Children and Family Services said it can intervene and investigate only when there is a disruption in that placement and an allegation of abuse or neglect.
The department has protocols in place to assist unaccompanied migrant children who are already in L.A. County, according to the motion. As of April 30, it had identified 72 such children, all of whom came from Central America but are not connected to the current crisis.