After fierce public pushback to President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance family separation policy, which forcibly separated families at the U.S.-Mexico border and was ended by a court order to reunite them, the president announced that he is again considering family separation as a means of deterring illegal immigration.
In a press conference held on South Lawn of the White House on Saturday, Trump revealed that he believed the administration’s previous separation policy was an effective method of disincentivizing families from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats, humanitarian organizations, and a considerable portion of the general public disagrees, particularly after news broke that children were being held in cages far longer than the three-day limit allowed by U.S. Border Patrol facilities.
Currently, families are still being detained, but are being held together, a policy which resulted from an amendment to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy inspired by enormous political pressure.
Trump believes the rise in illegal border crossings is a direct result of the United States’ robust economy. “We have people that are trying to get into our country because of how well our country is doing,” said Trump. “You know, in the old days, when the country wasn’t doing well, it was a lot easier. Now everybody wants to come in, and they come in illegally, and they use children. In many cases, you have really bad people coming in and using children. They’re not their children. They don’t even know the children. They haven’t known the children for 20 minutes. They grab children and they use them to come into our country.” Trump didn’t offer any data to support these claims.
Shockingly, his approval ratings during and after the zero-tolerance policy did not take a considerable or lasting hit. The policy was put into effect in April 2018, his approval rating hovered around 40% at the time. When news of the ramifications of the policy broke and he eventually amended the policy, his rating was between 41-45%.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, Katie Waldman, made a statement on behalf of the government: “DHS will continue to enforce the law humanely and will continue to examine a range of options to secure our nation’s borders.”
Senator Jeff Flake spoke against a new family separation policy, describing it as “un-American” in a statement on the air with ABC. “I think everybody recognized that. The president seemed to. Certainly, the first lady and others spoke directly against it. I hope we don’t return to that policy,” said Flake. Yesterday, Melania Trump offered her first interview since moving into the White House. In it, she claimed to have told her husband that she thought the policy was “unacceptable.”
Organizations are already getting together to campaign against any new policies that aim to separate families at the border. Amnesty International tweeted an infographic equating family separation to torture. Southern Poverty Law Center tweeted a Washington Post article along with a statement which read: “The Trump administration is again considering plans to separate children at the border. No matter the method, it's heartless, cruel, and will traumatize children.” Children’s Partnership tweeted out a link to a portal for their followers to submit comments directly to the government.
First the Trump administration ripped families apart at the border. Now it’s trying to force through cruel restrictions on immigrant families. We have to #ProtectFamilies! You can submit comments to the government via our portal: https://t.co/wriip9sid8 | @NILC_org @CLASP_DC pic.twitter.com/9h6vKe2tvP— ChildrensPartnership (@KidsPartnership) October 14, 2018