Migrant Kids As Young As 5 Were Left in Vans Overnight While Waiting to Reunite With Their Families

It took 39 hours for every child to be reunited with their parents.


Thirty-seven children between the ages of 5 and 12 were left in vans for up to 39 hours in the Texas heat last July, according to a report from NBC News. They were separated from their parents as part of President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy to deter migrants from crossing the border.

The children were driven to the Port Isabel Service Processing Center, an immigration detention facility near Los Fresnos, Texas, on the afternoon of July 15, 2018, to be reunited with their families. Instead, they waited. The majority of children spent a minimum of 23 hours in the vehicles, and it wasn't until after two nights that every child met with their parents.

Andrew Carter of the Bureau of Child and Family Services said that the lack of preparation on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) delayed the process. "The children were initially taken into the facility, but were then returned to the van as the facility was still working on paperwork," Carter told NBC. "The children were brought back in later in the evening, but returned to the vans because it was too cold in the facility and they were still not ready to be processed in."

I emailed the Administration for Children and Families, a division within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to ask some additional questions. "Thanks for reaching out," a communications officer responded. "We have nothing further to add."

The situation is yet another example of the Trump administration's failure to control a situation it created with its "zero-tolerance" approach, which has fueled chaos as migrants continue to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. A recent review by the Office of Inspector General (OIG)—released in January—found a number of problems with the government's oversight of family separations, including the fact that the separations continued even after U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ordered an end to the practice in June 2018. The report also identified "the lack of an existing, integrated data system to track separated families across HHS and DHS," the absence of which put many families in limbo and prevented officials from determining where some children had been placed.

This mismanagement is corroborated by private emails sent between HHS and ICE.
"[I]n short, no, we do not have any linkages from parents to [children], save for a handful," an official from HHS wrote in an exchange with a top official at ICE on June 23, 2018. "We have a list of parent alien numbers but no way to link them to children."

That the federal government is still struggling to reunite families should come as no surprise considering how haphazardly we've acted at the border. Reuniting these families would be less of a challenge if we had not broken them apart in the first place.

NEXT: Widely Unpopular Bill de Blasio Leads Major Crackdown on Highly Popular Ice Cream Trucks Over Unpaid Parking Tickets

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  1. Absolutely unacceptable.

    Fortunately, open borders will fix this. And given the speed at which the Democratic Party is moving toward the Koch / Reason position on immigration, by January 2021 we’ll replace Orange Hitler with a President who will abolish the inherently racist practice of “border enforcement.”

    1. Since you are a parody account, does that mean the person behind the OBL character is ok with leaving young children in vans in the hot Texas sun?

      1. “Since you are a parody account”

        Bad assumption. In fact, my uncompromising open borders position is 100% sincere.

        1. Ok, cool. Please tell us your origin story. How did you become a libertarian? And then how did you stop being one?

      2. But if you actually read the article, they were left in the hot sun because it was too cold inside.
        So – – – –

        1. Headline says overnight, not much sunshine then.

      3. It’s how the Taco truck was invented.

  2. Thirty-seven children between the ages of 5 and 12 were left in vans for up to 39 hours in the Texas heat last July

    , after having spent up to 39 days in the Mexican desert heat with no option of van air conditioning.

    It’s a mess. 8-(

  3. It’s a good thing they didn’t leave any dogs in the van with the kids, or Tucker Carlson might be upset.

    1. Well, that would depend. What if they were Mexican dogs?

      1. I have a Mexican dog. Anything under 75 degrees and he needs a blanket.

      2. Are those the ones in a tortilla instead of a bun, with salsa and jalapenos?

        1. Bacon wrapped and fried.

          Grilled onions and peppers.

          Optional toppings. Served in a bun, not tortilla.

      3. Pedo Jeffy, you’re the expert at keeping kids in windowless vans against their will. How long is too long?

  4. Another option is to just shoot them if they come across the border anywhere except an official crossing point. Enemy combatants attempting an invasion. No uniform = spy. Up against the wall.

    1. I wish I could say definitively that this was satire…

      1. You can definitely say that.
        You might be right.
        That’s the point; you can never tell. (well, OK, OBL)

    2. Wtf is wrong with you?

      1. Nothing is wrong with me.
        Something is wrong with the federal level politicians.

        What I say is true. Maybe people should stop whining about ‘mistreatment’ when children are rescued from the burning desert and have to sit on a padded van seat instead of a cactus.
        Or maybe I am bat shit crazy.
        Or maybe I read the Geneva convention.
        You get to choose, not me. The one speaking is now fully responsible for all hurt feelings by any passer by who gets offended. Or so they tell me.
        But I never listen any more. Why do you?

        1. Something is wrong with you. You’re talking about shooting kids… and now you’re bringing up the Geneva convention, right after talking about shooting children.

          1. Shooting children is terrible.
            They are so much harder to hit because they are smaller.

            1. And if you use a scatter gun there’s not much usable meat left.

          2. Technically, the Geneva convention applies just to the children we can label as spies, when it comes to summary execution.
            As to the rest, when did the USA give a damn about killing children? Every single democrat (now that Joe caved) not only favors killing children, they are on record for using tax money to assist.

            1. Superstitious, anti-social, bigoted right-wingers are among my favorite faux libertarians.

              Enjoying getting stomped in the culture war, Longtobefree? Still wondering why your betters reject your preferences?

  5. I don’t blame the kids, but this is their parents fault, not the US’ fault. It’s also their ancestor’a fault for embracing the socialist policies that turned their countries into poor crime ridden disaster areas.

    1. Once the state took the kids into its custody, then the state has a certain duty of care. From that point forward, it IS the state’s job to make sure these kids are not mistreated.

      1. No, the parents put them into the system by ignoring the host country’s laws. You are incorrect.

        1. Once the state took the kids into its custody

          1. After the parents broke the host country’s laws.

            1. Okay, fine. But once the state took the kids into its custody, then the state has a certain duty of care.

              1. They must be fed and kept alive. The system doesn’t have enough resources to deal with this and the parents both (1) know that and (2) are taking advantage of it.

                They put these kids in this situation and we do not have unlimited resources to deal with it. Occasionally this results in kids being kept in air conditioned vans instead of on the street in the blistering heat. Is it right? No. Is this something I’m willing to have my taxes raised to deal with — sure, BUT not until the border and migration issue are dealt with. Lets create a legal system that opens the doors for more people to migrate here, but on the flip side lets have even stronger enforcement/deportation procedures for those that do not go through the proper channels.

                We cannot have a nation without enforced and properly maintained borders with ports of entry and a system to monitor those that illegally stay longer than they should after coming in through a port of entry..

                1. I guess I just question the whole reason why, in general, there needs to be some agent of the state keeping track of who comes and who goes. I want to give the state as little power as possible over not just my life, but over every peaceful person’s life. If I want to invite my neighbor onto my property, for whatever reason I choose, I shouldn’t and don’t need to get a permission slip from the state first. That essential claim of liberty doesn’t change if there happens to be an international border separating our parcels of property.

                  And before anyone says “you can’t have borders without immigration restrictions”, that is not the case for migration between the states, that is not the case for the Schengen zone.

                  I want to maximize my own liberty as well as the liberty of all peaceful people. In my view, immigration restrictions represent an arbitrary limit on that liberty. And I might be willing to endorse a limit on that liberty on utilitarian grounds, if the benefits were clear and overwhelming (because I place a strong emphasis on the benefit of liberty for its own sake). So I can understand limitations in the case of horribly sick people, or in the case of international criminals. But it’s hard to justify the limitations for anything beyond that.

                  1. You are spilling a lot of ink just to say you are in favor of unfettered open borders across all nations. You’re taking a principled stance. I’m taking a practical stance. Because of that, we have nothing further to discuss because your principles will make you unwilling to compromise with people who what some kind of control over the flow of people coming from countries where our government has limited access to assert US law and custom.

                2. And I don’t mean to be obnoxiously argumentative or insulting, you seem at least to be reasonable on this issue. (As opposed to some of the Trumpbots around here.)

              2. Which is why they were put in the heated vans overnight. Read.

      2. The “parents” had a duty to ask for asylum in the first country they came to, which was Mexico. They also shouldn’t pack those kids in the bottom of the truck.

      3. Well Pedo Jeffy, that job is made harder by the sheer volume of these people sneaking in. Which is being encouraged by morons, such as your self. Some of them are being used, sometimes also for sex, by the people bringing them. Who are often not their parents, and are putting the Pedo Jeffy plan into effect.

    2. It’s also their ancestor’a fault

      I guess you are totally cool with reparations for slavery, then?

      1. I guess you are totally cool with reparations for slavery, then?

        I am, provided there are proper reimbursements for other costs such as SNAP, Section8, property damage from riots going back to the sixties, medical expenses like extracting rival gang bullets out of your ass, et cetera,et cetera,et cetera.

  6. >>>would be less of a challenge if we had not broken them apart in the first place

    or maybe if they’d stayed home?

  7. Reuniting these families would be less of a challenge if their parents hadn’t dragged them thousands of miles from home and entered another country illegally.

  8. Typhus, man. They’re having an outbreak of typhus. In the liberal utopia of California. In the twenty-first century.


    1. What happened to the preview button? It’s bad enough that we don’t get an Edit button, but now no preview button either?

      1. Also, this new site, although it looks more sleek and modern, sucks on a mobile platform. Way too many weird quirks: comment sections that randomly disappear for no reason, swiping that acts like a back button, and ads that pop in and out of existence at odd moments. It’s not a pleasant experience. The old site may have been ugly, but it worked.

        1. This site is just awful now. A nightmare to deal with on a tablet.

          1. It’s the writing that most disappoints me.

            1. Its Jeff that most disappoints me.

              1. Jeff doesn’t disappoint, he lives down to his established standards.

    2. Dude, there are concerns that BUBONIC PLAGUE is coming back in CA.

  9. So this is a situation that “Trump created”?

    Sorry, no. It’s a situation that was created by the kids parents who hauled them up to the United States border in the first place.

    1. It’s a situation created by the Open Borders supporters and Deep State judicial authoritarians who rigged the rules to *reward* alien invaders for bringing children along with them on their invasion.

  10. We don’t put children in government detention with adults. Duh.

    The “separating children from their families” outrage is the most asinine outrage among a strong field of contenders in Clown World.

    Is anyone really this stupid, or are they all just this dishonest?

    1. Yes.

    2. It’s an asinine outrage, only if you think that using child separation *as a deterrent for its own sake* isn’t particularly cruel or inhumane.

      1. “You’re only doing it because you’re mean! If you weren’t so mean, you’d put all the kids in general population at Rikers!”

        1. That isn’t what I said. I am talking about the policy of using child separation as an explicit policy of deterrence, separate from any alleged criminal activity.

          It would be equivalent to the state showing up to your house and taking your kids away from you, because you were caught smoking a joint, and even though smoking a joint is technically a crime, the punishment in this case is far disproportionate to the crime, because the state wants to deter all those other people from starting in on the demon weed by making an example of you and making YOUR life miserable.

          You are literally endorsing the idea of “pour encourager les autres” when it’s used against the migrants.

          1. What is the alternative, Jeff?

            1. Put the kids in the adult jail along with their parents, or at least with those who claim to be their parents?

            2. Open borders?

            I don’t see any other options. Maybe you do?

            1. Jeff doesn’t really do reality in his arguments. At least openly and honestly.

              But his alternative he doesn’t want to announce is destroying the US. That’s the *goal*.

              1. The only people around here who wants to destroy America are people like you, who want to turn it into a North American version of the North Korean hermit state – closed, paranoid, and afraid.

                1. It’s not what people want. You’re being disingenuous like usual.

                  1. There is the open borders position, which is what I favor.

                    There are various shades of border restrictionist policies, some of which are reasonable, some of which are not.

                    And then there are people like buybuy above, who treats *ALL* immigration (both legal and illegal) as a type of invasion, who elevates the American collective above the individual, and who comfortably judges entire groups of people based on their singular variable of “culture” or “national origin” which is just as bigoted as judging entire groups of people by the singular variable of skin color.

                    So when I refer to people who want to turn America into a closed paranoid xenophobic hermit state, I’m referring to people like buybuy above, not every single person who favors some degree of border restrictions.

                2. That’s right Jeff. If you don’t agree with open borders uber alles, you obviously want to be a 3rd world shithole communist nation that’s closed itself off from most of the world.

                3. Yeah, North Korea has a devil of a time dealing with the millions of people trying to sneak in

                4. We take in more legal immigrants than any other country on Earth.

                  And have done so for longer than most anybody can remember.

                  Yes, EXACTLY like North Korea!

            2. Jeffy will take those little tykes in! Him and PB. You leave ‘em, he loves ‘em………,long time.

            3. Let’s distinguish between the following two scenarios:

              1. A parent is convicted of a fairly serious crime, one in which any reasonable person would agree that jail time is appropriate as punishment. Since it’s not a good idea for parents and children to live in jail together, the parent is separated from his/her children for the duration of the sentence.

              2. A parent is *accused*, not convicted, of a relatively minor crime, one in which many reasonable people would agree that jail time would not really be appropriate even if convicted. However, the state deliberately inflates the gravity of the crime and insists that the *accused* parent be held in jail anyway. Since the current rules prohibit parents and children be held in jail (rightfully so), the parent is separated from his/her children. When pressed on the motivations for this program, emissaries of the state explicitly state that they don’t really believe those in jail are particularly dangerous people who ought to be incarcerated per se, but that they wish to “send a message” to any future potential lawbreakers out there that this is what will happen if you dare to cross them.

              The first scenario is regrettable but understandable. The second scenario is an abuse of power, evil, and morally indefensible.

              The solution is obvious: don’t treat individuals who have been *accused* of *minor* crimes, as if they have been *convicted* of *major* crimes. And for heaven’s sake don’t use children as weapons in some cruel act of deterrence.

              1. Jeff,

                You used a surfeit of words to say, “open borders”.

                You want open borders. I don’t.

                Trekking from Central America to the US southern border is dangerous and grueling. Crossing into the US with the intent of evading US immigration laws is a crime in the US. US immigration law demands arrest of adults who commit that crime. Children cannot be jailed along with their adult companions. To jail children in an adult facility would be an abuse of power and morally indefensible; that is inarguable.

                Check mate.

                1. Crossing into the US with the intent of evading US immigration laws is a crime in the US. US immigration law demands arrest of adults who commit that crime.

                  EVEN IF I were to agree that this is a legitimate crime, the crime that we are talking about here is on the same order of magnitude as trespassing. No one seriously believes that the crime of trespassing alone, especially for those merely ACCUSED of it, not yet convicted, warrants incarceration to the extent that requires children to be separated from their parents. That is the evil part of the child separation policy. It deliberately elevates a minor crime into a major one *just so* they can use incarceration as the excuse for separating children, and it has nothing to do with any belief that the accused is a particularly dangerous person who requires incarceration. It is only about using child separation as a weapon of deterrence. That is the sick, twisted and evil part of this entire episode.

                2. So no, objecting to this evil of children being used as a weapon of deterrence, has nothing to do with support of open borders. There is absolutely no inconsistency in believing that the state should regulate immigration flows, but that this regulation should be done in a proportionate and humane manner.

                  1. Aww yes. The intellectual thought process of declaring yourself the supreme moralist who decides what is good and what is not. Allows you to avoid real arguments like cost, poverty, health risks of travel, child trafficking and other issues associated with illegal migration.

                    Good work. Keep proving yourself that simpleton we have come to love.

                3. Stomping guys like ecoli in the culture war for more than a half-century has been important and a pleasure.

                  Keep whining, clingers.

              2. 2. A parent is *accused*, not convicted,

                The crime is illegal immigration, Jeff. If they’re here, they’ve committed the crime. No accusation necessary.

  11. I was aware that Donald Trump goes around grabbing women’s pussies and that he was on the payroll of Vladimir Putin, but I had no idea Trump had made it the official policy of Homeland Security to keep children sweltering in vans while their parents . . .
    When will he finally be impeached?!

    Homeland Security is being overwhelmed with families from Central America making bogus asylum claims, and Nancy Pelosi refuses to cooperate with the President and McConnell in an election year to address the problem.

    By the way, this is the most reasonable explanation for why Trump felt compelled to threaten Mexico with tariffs, unless they do more to stop the flow of asylum seekers, and anybody who cries about the asylum seekers but fails to mention the specific demands Trump is making to alleviate that situation is either ignorant or dealing dishonestly.

    P.S. Maybe they should change the name of the site to “Emotion”.

  12. The greatest country in the world.

    Treats children this way.

    1. And they are arriving in droves for the chance to be treated this way.

      What is the alternative?

      1. Take their children away and send them to the orphan mines!

  13. One of the things Trump is pushing Mexico to do (or suffer the effects of tariffs) is enter into a “safe third country” agreement with the United States. I did a little hunting.

    “Safe third country” refers to “The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996”, which has a clause that bars asylum from being granted to someone who can be returned to a “safe third country”. In order to invoke this provision, however, the U.S., according to that law, must have a bilateral or multilateral agreement with the safe third country in question. We already have such an agreement with Canada. So, if someone from Somalia (first country) flies to Toronto and then presents himself at the U.S. border (second country) and requests asylum, they will be returned to Canada (safe third country) because that’s where they landed.

    If someone wants to request asylum in Canada coming from the U.S. border, Canada can return them to the U.S. so long as they aren’t fleeing persecution in the U.S.

    As I wrote above, Trump is pushing Mexico to agree to enter into a bilateral safe third country agreement with Mexico, so that anyone from, say, Guatemala that presents himself to the U.S. at our border with Mexico and asks for asylum can be returned to Mexico, a safe third country.

    The obvious purpose of this is to destroy the incentive for asylum seekers to come to the U.S., unless they really are fleeing persecution. The last statistics I saw showed that asylum claims from Guatemala, Honduras, etc. are either rejected or the people never show up to their trial about 90% of the time. If they weren’t eligible for asylum if they entered the U.S. through Mexico, there would be little incentive for them to come. Getting the U.S. from Guatemala by sea may be pretty difficult–especially if they can’t stop in Mexico along the way.

    1. It should be noted that even if you don’t like the policy Trump is pursuing or the means by which he’s pursuing it, it is both Constitutional, complies the law, and is, furthermore, consistent with the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate. You may not like the idea of not having an open border, but, you know, just because I opposed the Iraq War doesn’t mean it wasn’t constitutional. If you want to stop the war, you have to persuade your fellow Americans to oppose it. And if you want to change The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 so as to strike out the part about “safe third country”, then spewing a bunch of pap about big eyed bunnies isn’t helpful.

      Rather, you might be honest about what Trump is doing and why and criticize it honestly.

      1. you might be honest about what Trump is doing and why and criticize it honestly.

        Not happening

        1. This is REAtdsON!!

      2. Well with that I understand where the persuasion argument is going. It ain’t David Nolan.

        Even if…and if you want …be honest about what Trump is doing…consistent with the convention…

        Now criticize honestly.

    2. Ken, thanks for doing Reason’s job.

      But Mexico has a dilemma. Becoming a safe third country means they are stuck with a million immigrants. Admitting they aren’t ‘safe’ hurts tourism (and their egos).

      Trump is the world’s all-time greatest troll.

    3. Thanks Ken.

  14. I should add that even if we gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed that the Reason writers here are just completely ignorant of what’s really going on and why, we should ask ourselves why they’re so ignorant. If you’re writing a piece about what’s happening and why, shouldn’t you make some kind of effort to know what’s going on and why? I don’t know. It’s hard to tell what came first. Appeals to pity may require a certain amount of ignorance from the audience in order to be effective, so you can see why someone might leave out the pertinent facts, but, on the other hand, being ignorant is a prerequisite for writing an appeal to pity–an really meaning it, too.

    1. As an outsider observing all this, it’s a question I’ve been asking.

      I’ve been less than impress with Reason’s covering of the illegal immigration issue. It was straight ‘Orange Man Bad’ and Open borders.

      Not good enough.

      1. impressed

        1. “I’ve been no the impress” would also be acceptable.

    2. Appeals to pity may require a certain amount of ignorance from the audience in order to be effective

      And we wonder why the progs have ruined our schools. If kids never are taught critical thinking they will never see through their BS.

  15. “The situation is yet another example of the Trump administration’s failure to control a situation it created”

    If their “parents” weren’t bringing them to the border there wouldn’t even be a situation, so I’m not sure how all of the blame can be laid at zero tolerance.

    1. Fear of Obama’s gun restrictions caused a rush of gun purchases.

      Trump, immigration. Nuff said.

      1. Yup. Immigrants are stepping up their plans to immigrate to the USA because they see the door closing in their faces.

        Which is good that it’s closing but this would likely explain the flood of invaders.

  16. Democrats won’t pass legislation to provide funding for ICE/DHS, and so it’s Trump’s fault that facilities to handle the increased influx of illegals aren’t available.

    1. +1000

  17. So, bring the kids along on your next bank robbery?

  18. Lenore Skenazy should weigh in on this.

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