June 24, 2019

On Morning Joe, Julia Ainsley explains how Trump is using the horrific conditions of migrant children in detention centers to pressure Congress for more money for more detention centers.

"We've been talking about the appalling conditions of migrant children that are being detained in American custody. How long are these children being held?" Mika Brzezinski asked Ainsley.

"We got the numbers broken down, it looked like they were staying on average of 110 hours. Now we are past that, talking about children staying there over a week. There was the case of a child who had the flu, near death with 106 degree temperature, who had to stay there over a week in those conditions before he could be taken to a place for better care.

"CBP is using that same argument that we saw from the vice president, that it is a matter of funding from Congress before we can move them to better places. That argument doesn't stand when it is such a simple solution. Yes, it's true that these facilities were not built for long time. Those were not built for children. They were built for mainly male, adult populations. But we're in that reality now, and we have been for some time. Why aren't there better policies in place? CBP had deaths of migrant children in their custody since December, the first time and now two others. The question is, why can't there be policies in place to move beyond this problem? If we have capacity problems, how do you alleviate in the meantime?"

"What does the administration gain from this? Does Donald Trump think having babies living in squallor helps him politically? I'm sorry, this is the sort of thing that, at least when I was in Washington, you could fix this in a day," Joe Scarborough said.

"I think what Jonathan said is spot on. That he's seeing this as a negotiation tactic. The worse they can show the conditions being at the border, the more Congress will be moved to provide funding," Ainsley said. "And when they provide funding, they're asking for detention space across the board.

"When the president teases things like mass ICE raids. It's not clear. Is that funding going to be used to alleviate the suffering of children? This tactic leads to what they are saying, that more detention space will alleviate some of this suffering. But you are right. I don't think that message is being received. And I will say, when I go to DHS on this, they say, look, there's been a lot of autonomy across the border, there's been a general inspector flag on this, but there is not this immediate, three-alarm fire you're talking about."

"Are these separated children or family units?" Brzezinski asked.

"I am so glad you asked that. Some of the lawyers said they did see children who had been separated, but mainly from family members. That's not necessarily parents. If a child crosses with a grandparent or adult-aged sibling, which explains a lot of why we are seeing so many young children deemed unaccompanied. Separated from people who are their family members and held in this facility. What happened in El Paso, that Clinton facility, for some reason, they decided to put over 235 children in one facility that already had a maximum of about 300. Children are some of the hardest people to care for because of all of these conditions. So they were taken from family members, not necessarily parents and then put in this condition where they were very few adults to care for thm," Ainsley said.

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