On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end his controversial and immoral policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S. border. However, the way in which affected children are being identified and taken care of by the government has been quite flawed, following his rushed and sudden decision.
Finding the exact amount of children who have been separated from their families sent to different cities and sent to different states has proven to be an extremely difficult task for government officials.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently stated that as many as 2,300 children have been affected by the “zero-tolerance” policy. Not only is this number disturbing, but officials have also stated that there is no concrete system dedicated to reuniting these children with their parents.
The department’s secretary, Kristjen Nielsen, stated that parents who have been released from government custody “are entitled to get their kids back through a documented process.” The secretary previously caused controversy when she defended the “zero-tolerance” policy with arguments made by other Trump administration officials and said that the administration would not apologize for the measures taken.
Under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, parents were separated from their children and charged with the crime of illegal entry. Most of these parents plead guilty and were then sent to prison for a couple of days. After this period of incarceration, they were usually deported, unless they gave a “credible fear” which would prevent them from returning to their country. This latter part of the legislation has not been followed by the administration recently, as even immigrants seeking asylum in the United States have been deported.
The children have been sent to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which has facilities in over 17 states. It is believed that there have been several cases where parents were deported without their children, and that their children were deported days later.
The Trump Administration’s recent decision has been quite controversial, as the order did not specify any procedures regarding the children who have already been separated, which caused a problem for many officials such as those in New York. New York officials have mentioned that they received virtually no notification in advance of the children’s arrival to New York. Communication between these officials and the federal government was handled quite poorly, as the former didn’t receive the information needed for identifying the children, and did not receive a response from the latter after several emails were sent with questions.
The order now specifies that entire families are to be detained in border facilities. This executive order comes after several days filled with criticism of the Trump Administration’s policies. This criticism was not eased by the actions of its officials during press briefings. Outrage only increased after video and audio recordings of undocumented children surfaced online. The heartbreaking videos showed children being held in cages during the first days of the separation, and the audio featured children crying and calling out for their parents.
Many have questioned Trump’s intentions behind the recent signing, as he was only willing to take action after massive amounts of public criticism hurt his administration’s reputation. This belief gained more validity when taking into account that he said during the signing that he “like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” which focuses more on the public’s reaction to the previous measure than on the morality of the measure itself. It also marked a significant departure from his previous approach, as he had adamantly defended the separation process and said that he could do nothing about it.
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