Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the official responsible for the wellbeing of the migrant children detained in U.S. facilities, thinks the country is performing a public good in keeping them locked up.
“It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally,” Azar told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.
Blitzer pressed Azar about the ban on media access to the detention centers, which has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks as the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy has separated thousands of children from their parents at the border. “People all over the world are wondering what’s going on,” Blitzer said.
Azar responded by explaining that case managers are working through individual cases to get them reunited with their parents and don’t have time for media.
“These are groups of the most well-meaning, altruistic individuals,” he said. “These kids are happy, they are loved, they are cared for, it is a compassionate environment.”
Despite a court ruling ordering that all 102 children under age 5 that had been separated from their parents as part of the policy be returned to their families by Tuesday, the Trump administration had said it would reunite only 38 of them.
According to court filings, some aren’t eligible to be reunited with their parents, either because some adults were determined to not be the parent of the child in question or because others have serious criminal histories.
A judge rejected the administration’s request to extend the deadline. The rest of the approximately 2,000 separated children must be reunited with their parents by July 26.