In May 2018, the Trump Administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy against adults who try to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. irregularly, even those who would be seeking asylum. Those caught trying to cross the border are placed into custody and face criminal charges for illegal entry. Consequently, any children coming with those adults will be separated from them and held in detention centers; children – even infants – are taken forcibly from their parents. During a six-week period recently, enforcement of the zero tolerance policy resulted in the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their parents at the border.
According to Donald Trump, the zero tolerance policy was put in place by “the Democrats,” and can’t be rescinded unless the Democrats “cooperate.” On June 5, 2018, Trump tweeted: “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that the practice of separating children from their parents while the parents tried to cross the Mexican border illegally was the law. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law … If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
In reality, however, this zero tolerance policy was not only not enacted by “the Democrats,” it’s not even a law. According to Snopes, “There is no federal law that stipulates that children and parents be separated at the border, no matter how families entered the United States. An increase in child detainees separated from parents stemmed directly from a change in enforcement policy repeatedly announced by Sessions in April and May 2018, under which adults (with or without children) are criminally prosecuted for attempting to enter the United States.
“A cluster of rumors about the controversial separation of families at the border held that the policy came before the Trump administration, either stemming from a 1997 “law” or purported policies of previous administrations. Those claims were false. No federal law required or suggested the family separation policy announced by Attorney General Sessions in several sets of remarks during April and May 2018.”
In an unusual moment of solidarity, all four living American first ladies spoke out against the zero tolerance policy. Even Melania Trump spoke her mind about it, saying that she “hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.”
First lady Laura Bush, in an op-ed for the Washington Post, commented that the camps where the children are housed were “eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II,” and called them “immoral.”
Hillary Clinton tweeted “What’s happening to families at the border right now is a humanitarian crisis. Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged.”
Michele Obama shared Laura Bush’s op-ed piece, and wrote, “Sometimes truth transcends party.”
But sometimes, truth is transcended by party and its agenda. The zero tolerance policy of separating children from their parents at the border is not based on any truth, because until now, illegally crossing the border for the first time was only punishable as a misdemeanor. But now, even those with legitimate reasons to seek asylum in the U.S. are being punished as if it were a felony. It appears that Trump’s policy of zero tolerance will hold children hostage, as it holds the Democratic party hostage, until they agree to go along with immigration policy as dictated by Trump and friends.
President Trump: Separation Of Immigrant Families ‘Forced Upon Us By The Democrats’ | NBC News [2018-06-15]
Families separated at the border: what’s really going on? | Fox News [2018-06-15]