Reason Roundup

545 Migrant Kids Snatched by the U.S. Government Are Still Missing Parents

Plus: What Jeffrey Toobin teaches us about Section 230, Wisconsin's Foxconn boondoggle, Breonna Taylor juror speaks out, and more...


The Trump administration's family separation policies have left 545 migrant children without traceable parents, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Most of these children were detained during unauthorized border crossings in 2017, during a pilot program to test President Donald Trump's zero-tolerance family separation policy.

"We just reported tonight to the court in #aclu case that we still cannot find parents of 545 kids separated by Trump admin—some just babies when taken years ago. We will not stop till we find EVERY one," tweeted ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt on Tuesday evening. ("I've been litigating this case since 2018 and each revelation is still shocking," commented Gelernt earlier this month.)

The Trump administration formally instituted its migrant family separation policy in 2018, though the pilot program had already begun.

"Unlike the 2,800 families separated under zero tolerance in 2018, most of whom remained in custody when the policy was ended by executive order, many of the more than 1,000 parents separated from their children under the pilot program had already been deported before a federal judge in California ordered that they be found," notes NBC News.

That judge, Dana Sabraw of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, wrote in a June 2018 decision that "the practice of separating these families was implemented without any effective system or procedure for (1) tracking the children after they were separated from their parents, (2) enabling communication between the parents and their children after separation, and (3) reuniting the parents and children after the parents are returned to immigration custody following completion of their criminal sentence. This is a startling reality."

The ACLU was one of the organizations tasked by the court with trying to track these children's parents down so they could be reunited.


On Zoom, Jeffrey Toobin, and Section 230: Inappropriate sexual behavior during a video chat with colleagues could bring lawsuits, notes Shoshana Weissmann, riffing on current events involving The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin. "And if lawsuits are filed, Toobin, rather than Zoom, should be liable. Zoom likely had no knowledge of the incident until it was reported, nor did Zoom have anything to do with his actions. Toobin is also not an employee of Zoom."

If you agree, you should support Section 230 of federal communications law, Weissmann explains:

It is this same principle that Section 230 protects: that platforms should not be liable for content published by users. But platforms are liable for their own content that they publish, such as tweets from @Twitter or any static pages on created by Facebook.

Unfortunately, there have been a plethora of proposals to strip Section 230 protections unless certain (often arbitrary) conditions are met. These proposals are ill-advised, and the Toobin incident highlights why….

If a lawsuit comes of the Toobin incident, he will be liable for the behavior, and Zoom will not. Let's keep each responsible for their own junk.

Meanwhile, another new bill aimed at Section 230 has taken shape in Congress:

See also: Lawyer Ken White (a.k.a. Popehat) on the effective propaganda campaign against 230:

If you tear the tag off of a mattress you'll go to federal prison! If you ask that drug dealer/prostitute if they're actually a cop, they have to answer truthfully! Hate speech is not free speech! This is clearly RICO! Anyone who talks about somebody else's health is violating HIPAA!

These are popular examples of legal urban legends, tall tales, and popular misconceptions. They're all insignificant next to the relentless—and frighteningly effective—propaganda surrounding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.


Trump's "job creation" in practice

In June 2018, President Donald Trump and then–Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin broke ground on the outskirts of Milwaukee for what was supposed to be a $10 billion, 20 million-square-foot factory for Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn.

It was going to be "the eighth wonder of the world," Trump said, proof that he was "reclaiming our country's proud manufacturing legacy"—even if the project was dependent on $3 billion in subsidies from the state of Wisconsin, one of the largest corporate handouts in American history.

A little more than two years later, the factory that was supposed to produce LCD screens for TVs and smartphones doesn't exist and "probably never will," reports The Verge this week in a must-read investigation into the downfall of Wisconsin's propped-up Foxconn project.


An update on the quest to speak freely by a juror in the Breonna Taylor case:

"The grand jury was not presented any charges other than the three Wanton Endangerment charges against Detective [Brett] Hankison," said the juror in a statement yesterday. Read more from the Associated Press here.


  • On COVID-19 in schools:

  • The federal government and 11 states are suing Google in a severely anti-business lawsuit (with big implications beyond just the tech company) which the Republican Party is cheering.

  • "China is one of only three foreign nations—the others are Britain and Ireland—where Trump maintains a bank account," reports The New York Times.
  • Kyle Plush died while "trapped in his van in April 2018. He called 911 twice for help, but a series of failures meant responding officers were never able to find him." Now, the city of Cincinnati is appealing a court's refusal to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Plush's family against the city, 911 responders, and two Cincinnati police officers.
  • Huh:

  • Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in last night to watch Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) over Twitch as they played a game called Among Us. It's "a social deduction game like the party games Mafia or Werewolf, basically, but set on a spaceship or space base or something," said The Guardian's Patrick Lum. Ocasio-Cortez's "stream alone has peaked at 435,000 viewers, not counting people tuning in via the streams of people watching Ilhan Omar, Dr. Lupo or other players in the game," notes Engadget.
  • The Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies (or CAREN) Act is supported by all of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, "despite criticism by some that the proposal's acronym is sexist and unnecessarily divisive. The proposal would give people the right to sue offending 911 callers in civil court" if the call was "without reason" and based on bias.