Critics denounce plant to incarcerate entire families
By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Protester outside immigrant child detention facility in El Cajon
June 20, 2018 (Washington D.C.) -- President Donald Trump today announced that he has signed an executive order to end the controversial separation of children and parents at the border. The Trump administration now plans to detain parents and their kids together for the foreseeable future, the New York Times reports.
The announcement follows news footage this week of children kept in cage-like enclosures, denouncement of the separation policy by Democrats and even prominent Republicans including former First Lady Laura Bush.
It also comes on the heels of a report on MSNBC this week revealing that the administration has opened several “tender age” facilities housing only babies and toddlers, with staff prohibited from picking up or comforting distraught youngsters.
The new policy aims to bypass a consent decree that bars the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention for longer than 20 days.
San Diego Congresswoman Susan Davis responded to the President’s executive order by calling on the Trump administration to immediately start reuniting separated families.
House Democrats have asked how Homeland Security and Health and Human Services plan to actually make that happen.
Davis, a Democrat, states, “Since thousands of children are still detained and separated from their families, the Administration owes it to the American people to tell us exactly how and when they plan to reunite them.”
Some advocates for children say that putting children in detention with their parents is the wrong solution, noting that prior administrations allowed parents to remain free until their immigration hearings. No other country incarcerates undocumented immigrants. Most immigrants are allowed to remain free pending hearings, with ankle bracelets in cases considered high risk of flight.
Crossing a border without authorization is a misdemeanor; the U.S. does not routinely jail people accused of other misdemeanors pending trial.
Jennifer Quigley at Human Rights First says, "By trying to indefinitely detain traumatized children and their parents seeking protection in the United States, the Trump administration is doubling down on their cruelty. There is no scenario in which children should be held in prison like criminals."
She adds, “There already exists a solution to family separation. The Trump Administration ended an effective case management program that provides alternatives to detention and ensures that asylum seekers show up in court.”