Families caught at the border being separated, as per new Trump policy
In recent weeks, much attention has been paid towards the Trump administration’s new policy of separating minor children from their adults family members, including parents, when presenting or apprehended at the border. “If you cross the border unlawfully…we’re going to prosecute you,” says Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While President Trump has used his Twitter account recently to blame congressional Democrats for the supposed “law” that requires these separations, no such law exists. It is a policy created and enacted by this administration in order to discourage immigrations, refugees, and potential asylees from traveling to the United States, and punish those families that make it here.
Journalists at Newsy have looked over the new policy and how it is being carried out. First of all, it is a federal offense to cross the border into the States with the intention of living here unlawfully. In the past, if those who crossed were found to be doing so unlawfully, or did not satisfy a claim of asylum, they were not prosecuted but bused back. Under President Trump’s new policy, however, anyone crossing unlawfully will be prosecuted even if it means putting parents into detention centers and placing children in “refugee shelters.” This happened to several members of the recent “caravan” that arrived on our southern border at the end of April. The Justice Department claimed that the crossers had not asked for asylum, and that asylum-seekers would not face this experience.
That said, the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy may be blurring these lines even with potential asylees. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit to reunite an asylum-seeking mother and child from the Democratic Republic of Congo that had been detained and separated in the U.S. and held thousands of miles apart. The pair were reunited this past March, but the lawsuit continues in order to assert the right of seeking asylum. The ACLU says that separating parents from their children is “only legal if the government can prove abuse or provide justification for the separation.”
A.G. Sessions argues that children are separated from parents who are in criminal proceedings, likening border situations to any other criminal prosecution situation and not an anti-immigrant policy per se. However, this disregards the fact that this administration has made the decision to separate children from their parents routinely and universally, in contrast to previous administrations, and that other high status White House officials such as Chief of Staff John Kelly have explicitly claimed that the “zero tolerance” policy is meant as a deterrent. The messaging from the White House is therefore mixed, but the numbers tend to prove Sessions’ claim to be misleading at best. In fact, at the time of Newsy’s report, the government had already confirmed to the New York Times “that around 700 immigrant children had been separated from their parents since October,” and the numbers are growing.
For Newsy’s report, please see: https://www.newsy.com/stories/is-sessions-threat-to-break-up-immigrant-families-legal/