The greatest of policy failures are those that fail families – particularly children – such as the recent policy hastily enacted by the Trump administration that has resulted in the separation of hundreds of migrant families who may never be reunited.
Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy required that those attempting to cross into the U.S. from Mexico be detained, their children separated from them and held in detention facilities. U.S. District judge Dana Sabraw ordered the Trump administration to reunite the migrant families by July 26, 2018. (July 10 was the deadline for children under five, and only 38 families out of 102 were reunited), yet the deadline has passed, and roughly 700 migrant children remain separated from their parents.
The Trump administration, however, claims that it has met the goal, reuniting all “eligible” migrant familes. The 711 migrant children who remain separated from their families, it says, are “ineligible” to be returned to them for one reason or another.
Some of the migrant parents have red flags on their background checks, and others were held in criminal custody so weren’t eligible to be reunited with their children. For at least 431 children, though, according to the Independent, their parents either left the U.S. without their children, or were deported. The parents of roughly 120 additional children allegedly “waived reunification” by signing documents that they may have not fully understood.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), many of the migrant parents reported not fully comprehending what they were signing, or being coerced into signing the waivers. Some said they were told that signing the papers would expedite being reunited with their children. Others said they were threatened with the possibility of never seeing their children again if they didn’t sign.
In short, the Trump administration put a poorly-thought-out policy in place without a backup plan. When a U.S. District judge called them out on it and ordered them to reunite the affected migrant families, it became apparent that the administration had neglected to closely track the parents and their children after they were separated. With the threat of missing their legal deadline for reunification, it’s speculated that they made another hasty decision – this time to cover their sloppiness by conveniently having the immigrant parents waive their rights to being reunited with their families. Thus, the Trump administration can neatly say that it met the deadline to reunite all “eligible” migrant families.
Trump administration says 711 children can’t be reunited with parents by deadline | CBS Evening New [2018-07-26]
DHS: All eligible separated children reunited with parents | Fox News [2018-07-27]