Contrary to the lies told by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Trump administration knew exactly what it was doing when it instituted its cruel policy of tearing families apart, leading to the abhorrent baby jails and other atrocities revealed over the summer of 2018.
Nielsen signed off on the option to prosecute all adults who crossed the border illegally, including those with kids, knowing it would lead to family separations. The administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which sought to prosecute every adult caught crossing the border illegally, resulted in thousands of families being separated, with some parents being deported without their children.
Even though the memo was signed in April, Nielsen blatantly lied about the policy both in conversations with reporters and on social media. On June 17, 2018, almost a month after signing the memo, Neilsen wrote, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”
Yet thousands of children, including infants and toddlers, were forcibly taken away from their parents over the course of a few months, and placed in detention centers.
National and international anger erupted as news reports of baby jails, or so-called “tender age facilities,” were set up to detain children under the age of five.
According to the Associated Press, “the children — who have no idea where their parents are — were hysterical, crying and acting out. Many of them are under age 5, and some are so young they have not yet learned to talk.”
The administration was fully aware that tearing children away from their parents would be traumatic and could cause significant harm to children, but moved forward with the program anyway.
The family separation memo was first reported on by the Washington Post, but the full memo was made public recently through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Open the Government and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).
In order to cover the cost of jailing so many children, the Trump administration siphoned money away from cancer research, FEMA (which responds to emergencies like hurricanes), and other critical government programs.
Even as much of the nation recoiled in horror at the thought of children being torn away from their parents, some Republicans defended the Trump administration.
An anti-immigrant member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), was among many who peddled misinformation to defend the program. Also in Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lou Baretta went on television and defended the cruel practice by blaming families for seeking asylum in the U.S.
After falsely claiming that he couldn’t stop the practice, Trump eventually caved to pressure and reversed his own policy ordering the government-sanctioned kidnapping of children.
But even to this day, more information continues to come out and more lies from Trump and his team are exposed, adding more shame to an already despicable situation.
Published with permission of The American Independent.