Trump’s new order ending family separations will just detain undocumented families indefinitely
After the Trump administration separated more than 2,000 children from their parents under the “zero tolerance” policy, the president succumbed to pressure and signed an executive order to stop the separations at the border. Instead, families will be detained together indefinitely.
The Trump administration has been enforcing anti-Muslim and anti-immigration national policies to decrease the number of migrants moving to the U.S. from majority Muslim countries and Latinx countries. The latest anti-immigration battle to gain fierce condemnation has been occurring on the U.S. border with Mexico. As Trump officials and political figures continue to spew nationalistic rhetoric to reduce “illegal immigration,” the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol are raiding workplaces, conducting mass arrests, and separating children from their detained parents at the border to find and detain undocumented migrants to the country.
In April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session announced a “zero-tolerance” policy that would detain and prosecute all who illegally crossed the border. However, many migrants came with children. As the Black Youth Project had previously reported, these children are taken from their parents to holding centers or old shelters. One shelter is an old, converted Walmart which holds more than 1,400 children. Many children at holding sites are being detained in cages.
President Trump initially defended the practice, stating, “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility… Not on my watch.”
In response to the public outcry at the separation of families, the Trump administration signed an executive order to stop family separations at the border. Instead, entire families will be detained together at for-profit prisons.
The Department of Defense stated that they will “take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary… any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families.”
However, the decision to detain entire families together is in direct violation of the 1997 Flores consent decree, which says undocumented children cannot be detained for more than 20 days, with or without their parents.
Immigrant rights groups and children advocates fiercely condemned the course of anti-immigration action the current administration has been taking.
“The President doesn’t get any brownie points for moving from a policy of locking up kids and families separately to locking them up together. Let’s be clear that Trump is making a crisis of his own creation worse,” said Karen Tumlin, director of legal strategy at the National Immigration Law Center on Wednesday. “Children, especially those fleeing persecution, need safety and environments where they can thrive and play and be safe. They don’t need jail.”
“Of course we don’t want families to be separated. It’s been heartbreaking to watch what’s going on,” stated Frank Sharry, executive director of immigration reform group America’s Voice. “But we also don’t want families to be locked up in internment centers in America. We also don’t want families who are fleeing for their lives to be sent back into the burning house that they’ve escaped from, and we also don’t want America to be a place where you can’t get a fair shot in a life-and-death decision.”
Many also pointed out that the anti-immigration apparatus of arrests, separation and detainment of undocumented migrants is a familiar occurrence throughout American history and has continued under Obama and Trump. Examples include the Japanese internment camps, Native children held in detention centers, and the separation of Black families by slavery, Jim Crow law and purposeful mass incarceration.
In addition, there has still not been an answer on how separated families will be reunited.