Federal officials said only 34 young children (out of more than 100) separated from parents at the border under a “zero tolerance” policy will be reunited with parents in time to comply with a court deadline.
President Donald Trump’s suggestion Tuesday that the solution to the humanitarian crisis of family separation is that families should stop seeking entry to the U.S. is nonsensical. The administration has manufactured this crisis itself by adopting inhumane, unlawful and fiscally unsound policies. Its failure to reunite children under 5 years of age — toddlers — with their parents by a federal judge’s deadline shows the incredible toll this policy is taking on families, as well as the costly logistical nightmare it has created.
If the president is looking for solutions, he should terminate the senseless, wasteful prosecution of families crossing the border, some of whom have legitimate legal claims for protection. He should stop separating children from their parents. And he should not seek to incarcerate families indefinitely as an alternative to separation.
Family detention has proven both physically and mentally detrimental to children’s growth and development. Detained families are also often unable to find absolutely critical legal representation in these remote mass incarceration sites. Many who may qualify for asylum could end up losing their cases simply because they are detained.
Additionally, putting families in prison places a costly burden on American taxpayers. It costs hundreds of dollars per day to detain a child, and we know the administration is seeking to build additional centers. Litigation by the Justice Department to seek approval for indefinite detention of families is also costly.
A federal judge had already ruled that children could not be detained indefinitely, yet the administration, again, sought to litigate this decision and may seek further appeals. In fact, cheaper, more humane and more effective programs — such as the family case management system — already exist, and were developed after years of litigation and advocacy during the prior administration. But this administration chose to terminate these programs in favor of draconian, dehumanizing measures.
Congress should not approve the expenditure of our tax dollars on the construction or use of prisons for children, the prosecution of border crossers who do not pose a threat to our safety, or the separation of families. Reunification of families must be accomplished expeditiously. With all the damage the administration has already done to our nation’s reputation, the rule of law and the human beings impacted by its policies, meeting the federal court’s deadlines is the least it could do
Archi Pyati is the chief of policy for the Tahirih Justice Center.
This is a bungled, disgraceful mess. A dark chapter in U.S. history. If you start incarcerating people en masse, have a plan, a process, a place to put them, at least. This is madness.
— Gregorio O’Brady
The madness is not following the law in the first place, thus creating a flood of unmanageable people at the border.
— Mike Herman
Our immigration laws need a 21st century update, in both border security (including airports, our most porous border) and enforcement policies consistent with American values. President Donald Trump seems to have no interest; instead, opting for a 14th century solution.
— Scott Hardy
What is the penalty for not reuniting all the children in the specified time by the judge? Who is being held accountable?
— Travis Roundtree
Jill Filipovic, CNN.com: “Human beings don’t take the great risk of migration for fun and games. If the Trump administration wants immigrants to come legally, it can certainly make it easier for them — and especially for asylum-seekers. Instead, the administration has made it more difficult, leaving desperate people with few choices. Imagine what it is like for them. And they are, by the way, people — not hordes, not insects, not ‘illegals.’ Just human beings, like you and me, without the safety and stability so many of us assume.”
The Los Angeles Times, editorial board: “When asked about his administration’s failure to meet the deadline, Trump told reporters Tuesday, ‘Well, I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That’s the solution. Don’t come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.’ He neglected to mention his proposal to roll back legal immigration too. How many court rulings will it take? When will this administration recognize that the U.S. cannot fix its broken immigration system with punitive, cruel policies?”
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