President reverses highly criticized practice in his ‘zero-tolerance policy’
AFTER weeks of heart-rendering coverage of children being separated from their parents at the border, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday, June 20 to remove that practice from standard border protection procedure.
Trump previously argued that he had no authority to stop the separations, but after receiving intense rebuke from Americans across the political spectrum — as well as international religious and political figures — he officially reversed the practice which his own administration implemented earlier this year as a part of a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
Per the executive order, the Trump administration orders border patrol agents to “maintain family unity, including by detaining [immigrant] families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” The executive order also blames “Congress’s failure to act” on guaranteeing funding for Trump’s massive border wall for families being separated, according to the executive order.
The sharp increase of children being separated from their parents was due to a new Trump administration policy that refers all adult border crossers — even those seeking asylum — to criminal prosecution (even if they have few or no previous offenses) on top of the standard immigration proceedings. Since children cannot be prosecuted, they would be sent to separate detention centers from their parents.
Trump’s reversal of the family separation policy doesn’t affect the policy that immediately levies criminal charges on all adults illegally crossing the border.
The executive order directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep families together in its custody until the criminal case against the adult and immigration case against the family are completed, a process that can take several weeks or months. The DHS is to prioritize the immigration cases of detained families, which would result in other immigration cases being pushed back in the heavily backlogged immigration court system.
Trump said that he was pressured by First Lady Melania Trump and his daughter and White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump to end the practice that separated immigrant children from their parents as they await adjudication.
“We’re signing an executive order I consider to be a very important executive order,” Trump said in his remarks in the Oval Office on Wednesday. “We are keeping families together, and this will solve that problem. At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be zero-tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”
The president also claimed that family separation at the border is “a problem that’s gone on for many years, as you know, through many administration,” which has been debunked by various sources.
As previously reported by the Asian Journal, the practice of separating children from their parents — as well as husbands from wives — was a feature in Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy” which automatically prosecutes all immigrants crossing the border illegally. The policy was first announced in May by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who described family separation as deterrence to discourage people from seeking refuge in the U.S.
As more Central American families try to escape gang violence and abuse in their native countries and try to seek asylum in the United States, a new Trump administration stipulation that automatically criminally charges border crossers has resulted in separating parents from their children.
Articles and photographs depict young children crying themselves to sleep because they don’t know where their parents are. The glaring warehouse lights are reportedly kept on all the time, even during sleeping hours. On Monday, June 18, ProPublica released audio from one such center in which children can be heard sobbing, wailing and calling out for their parents.
Over the crying, a Border Patrol agent can be heard joking, “Well we have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.”
From Oct. 2017 to June 2018, some 2,000 children — more than a hundred of them being younger than 4 years old — have been separated from their parents upon arriving at the border. According to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 650 children were separated in a two-week period in May alone. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)