Governor: Trump officials view placing migrant kids in foster care equal to family reunification

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Friday that Trump administration officials have told him and his staff that they view placing separated migrant children in foster care as an equivalent to reuniting them with their families.

“The secretary told us on a conference call they do not have an intention to reunify these children with their parents,” Inslee said on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes,” appearing to refer to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“They’re going to call it good if they can find anybody else who can serve as a foster parent or anybody else who can serve as familial relationship, and these kids don’t even know these strangers,” he continued.

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Inslee claimed that the Trump administration doesn’t plan on complying with a court order requiring that officials reunify all of the immigrant children separated from their families at the border under a since-ended Trump policy.

“It’s clear they do not intend to be humane and it’s clear they will continue on this course until he is removed from office,” the governor said, referring to Trump.

Inslee and five other Democratic governors signed a letter Friday to Trump officials, saying they were “deeply concerned that wholly inadequate resources and procedures are in place to ensure children and parents are reunified safely and securely.”

The letter also states that during a June 29 meeting with governors’ offices, administration representatives “shared that reunification may include the placement of separate children with any long-term sponsor,” including long-term foster care.

“If true, this interpretation appears to blatantly ignore the terms of the court order,” the letter reads.

Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo (N.Y.), Dannel Malloy (Conn.), Tom Wolf (Pa.), Phil Murphy (N.J.) and Kate Brown (Ore.) also signed on to that letter. 

A court order last month gave the administration until July 10 to reunite separated immigrant children under the age of 5, and until July 26 to complete reunifications for children aged 5 to 17.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday requested an extension on the deadlines to reunite the children with their families.

"The government does not wish to unnecessarily delay reunification," DOJ lawyers wrote in a court filing, according to NBC News. "At the same time, however, the government has a strong interest in ensuring that any release of a child from government custody occurs in a manner that ensures the safety of the child."