The Donald Trump administration came under fire for implementing a new policy that separated families crossing the U.S.-Mexican Border legally and illegally from mid-April to June 20.
President Trump finally gave in to public pressure and ended family separation by signing an executive order days after saying he could not. The order states that families would not be separated but be detained together.
However, this executive order does not address returning the 2,000 plus children already separated from their parents and could run into problems with detaining families together since current law states children can not be detained for more than 20 days. So family separation could start all over again in just over two weeks.
In response to the criticism, different members of the administration are offering conflicting reasons for why this policy existed.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Fox News it was a deterrent to prevent more immigrants from coming here and gleefully used the Bible to defend this policy at another time. Days later, Sessions told the Christian Broadcasting Network that it was never their intention to separate families.
Trump has blamed Democrats for this policy due to a law they passed when — and I cannot stress this enough — there is no law that mandates we separate immigrant families crossing the border.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson said first on Twitter that this policy didn’t exist, and then in a press conference said they will not apologize for this policy.
Other defenders of the policy have said the same thing happened under previous administrations. That is an “alternative fact” or, in other words, a lie. Multiple reputable news outlets and fact-checking organizations, leaning right and left, as well as lawyers and judges, all said that is not the case, and just because you don’t like these facts doesn’t make it “fake news.”
Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School, told NBC News what happened in the Obama administration is not even close to what happened under Trump. Families were separated if there was reasonable suspicion that a child was held by traffickers or abused. This happened once every six months to a year, not 2,000 in two months.
This is not a policy from previous administrations, this is a Trump administration feature that Sessions announced publicly months ago.
Undocumented immigrants are not the only ones being separated at the border. While multiple government officials have said that immigrants crossing legally through a port of entry seeking asylum would not be separated, that is not the case, according to NBC News and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Even if the Obama administration did what the Trump administration had done, it would still be wrong. It doesn’t matter if these immigrants crossed the border legally or not; they have rights. Trump said he wants to prevent “these people” from infesting the country and deport them immediately without due process. He fails to understand that, like it or not, undocumented immigrants still have constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment.
I’ve seen people on and off campus defend this horrible practice by saying”They’re not American children, so why should I care?” They care more about Confederate statues, which members of the KKK love a bit too much, but that’s besides the point: that these children suffering. The lack of compassion is absolutely stunning since they’re always crying “All Lives Matter.”
They say the kids are fine; they’re at summer camps. That’s not true. These kids are being kept in cages. Border Patrol went so far as to admit that the kids are in cages, but said they felt uncomfortable with journalists using the word cages. It wouldn’t matter if these kids are kept in 5-star hotels. Separating kids from their parents and putting them in cages is wrong. That is not an extreme liberal idea, that is a human idea.
These defenders are more than willing to fight for the rights of an unborn child, which is great, and I fight alongside them. But to the already-born child who is fleeing violence and persecution, they just turn their heads and ignore their cries.
The majority of immigrants crossing the border are searching for a better life, and they commit fewer crimes than U.S. citizens, as multiple peer-reviewed studies have shown. They don’t have the option of “getting in line” and waiting anywhere from five to 25 years due to the risk to their lives.
I know our immigration system is broken and ineffective in so many different ways. It needs to be fixed, but separating families isn’t the way to go about it. We have done this in the past with slaves, Native Americans and with Japanese citizens during WWII, but we can do better. Let’s strive to be better and care for everyone equally, regardless of where they came from and how they got here.