Family Separations: a US Government Key Policy Issue

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It may look like the “Zero Tolerance” policy and the family separations on the Southern Border of the USA  are in response to a surge of immigrants, but this is not so.

As a matter of policy, the US government is now separating families who seek asylum in the US by crossing the border illegally.

The White House is sticking to a strategy of falsely blaming Democrats and past administrations for a practice that it decided to adopt and could change anytime it wanted to. This is a Trump Administration Policy.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” President Donald Trump declared on Monday.

Once again the message from the Trump administration is garbled with different reasons and accusations and excuses coming from key people. Maybe to create chaos and maybe just because they are incompetent.

Here are some of the statements in response to the family separations:

  • Just Following the Law
  • The Deterrence Factor
  • Blame it on the Democrats
  • The Biblical Defense

Just Following the Law

As photos and audio of caged and crying children fuel anger across the world, the United States Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims her administration is simply enforcing the law.

On Monday, at a White House press briefing, Nielsen argued that illegal immigration on the southern border had exceeded 50,000 people per month for the past three months. Since this time last year, she added, there had been a 325% increase in unaccompanied foreign children and a 435% increase in family units entering the country illegally.

She argued: “This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border … Parents who entered illegally are by definition criminals … By entering our country illegally often in dangerous circumstances, illegal immigrants have put their children at risk.”

However, to put this statement into context, Nielsen had tweeted over the weekend that her department does “not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

The Deterrence Factor

On the flip side of that coin, John Kelly, the White House chief of staff and Nielsen’s predecessor at homeland security, told National Public Radio in May  already, that deterrence was “a big part” of the policy.

The documents, which refer to the effort as the “Prosecution Initiative,” demonstrate that in early April, days after President Donald Trump announced he would send the National Guard to the border and after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his offices would prosecute all illegal crossings referred to the Justice Department, Homeland Security staff predicted that the deterrent effects of the policies would be visible quickly.

Also on the side of using innocent children as a weapon of deterrence is the architect of the Zero Tolerance Policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions who said, “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring their children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws” at an event held by the National Sheriff’s Association on Monday.

The policy has seen nearly 2,000 children separated from their families since Sessions issued his “zero tolerance” directive on 6 April 2018. This means that at present, an average of 45 children are being taken from their parents each day.

The Biblical Defense

A week ago the White House used a passage from the Bible to justify the practice of separating migrant children from their families at the American border when the uproar about the family separations began.

“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, as it should be,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

And of course Sarah Sanders echoed at the next briefing that it is “very biblical to enforce the law; that it is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.” But neither quoted any Biblical verses about family separations.

Current US Immigration Policy

Under the current policy, anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally faces criminal prosecution. Children traveling with adults are separated from their families and taken into US custody. US protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime while the parents are. The parents are jailed and the children are put in the care of non-governmental agencies, sometimes in other states.

The issue with the government’s taking care of underage unaccompanied minors is problem, as the Government admitted recently that it “lost” almost 1500 kids.

It is not only people caught in illegal crossings that are treated like this, there are also some cases in which immigrant families are being separated after coming to ports of entry and presenting themselves for asylum — thus following US law.

Blame it on the Democrats

“Blame it on the Democrats” is the rallying cry from the White House, voiced by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when asked about the outrageous family separation policy of the Trump Administration.

“We’re not the ones responsible for creating this problem. We’ve inherited it,” she said at the White House press briefing on Monday. “But we’re actually the first administration stepping up and trying to fix it.”

Demonizing Immigrants

From Trump’s first insulting and offensive words about Mexicans when he kicked off his campaign, he and his administration have set about systematically demonizing immigrants – especially brown and black ones. Like this tweet –

Every now and then the scaremongering of rapists and criminals and MS-13 is bandied about to try to justify this inhumane policy of family separations.

Where is this Forced Separations Policy Heading?

Is this just extreme immigration control by the Trump hardliners like Jeff Sessions,  who is desperately trying to please his boss and hold on to his job. Or Donal Trump trying to be a “strong man”?

Or is it a carefully planned long term strategy to shore up the base in preparation for the November mid-terms, especially in place of the Great Big Beautiful Wall, that has not yet arisen?

Maybe the Trump administration is counting on this outrage and rising hysteria about sobbing children in cages to force the hands of those who don’t want to give in to his bullying them into what he believes is comprehensive immigration reform. He also wants billions of dollars for his wall. Don’t forget the lack of the Wall has also been mentioned as a reason for removing children from their parents on the border.

Over the next few days and weeks, who knows how. But one does not have to be a rocket scientist to know that those who will bear the scars forever are the children who have been taken from their parents, with no real process on how or when they will be reunited.

The last word on family separations goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein: ‘This is the United States of America. It isn’t Nazi Germany

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