Although the infamous Trump administration undocumented immigrant family separation policy has largely ended at this point, its effects remain. Hundreds of children isolated under the policy remain separated from their families at present, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wants answers.
During a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he pressed a panel of Trump administration officials for a defense of the family separations policy.
‘Let me ask this panel, who here thinks that zero tolerance has been a success? You can just raise your hand if you think it’s been a success.’
None of the officials raised their hands. The panel included the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps’ Commander Jonathan White, acting Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost and Matthew Albence, who works on deportations with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Also present were James McHenry, who leads the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Department of Homeland Security official Jennifer Higgins.
After their initial refusal to get behind the family separations policy, Blumenthal pressed on.
‘Who thinks that the family separation policy has been a success? Raise your hand. Who here can tell me who is responsible, which public official, which member of this administration, is responsible for zero tolerance and family separations?’
At no point during that acute line of questioning did any of the officials actually respond. Blumenthal was taken aback that none of the officials would even offer an answer for the basic question of responsibility for the family separations.
Check it out below.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 31, 2018
Thousands of undocumented immigrant children were separated from their parents after the Trump administration began prosecuting undocumented individuals attempting to make it over the border — even for asylum — to the fullest extent of the law without regard to whether or not the individuals posed any kind of verifiable criminal threat to the United States.
Donald Trump himself summed up his administration’s perspective when he told reporters in June:
‘The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won’t be. You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places — we can’t allow that to happen to the United States.’
To Trump, accepting those into the country who are seeking to better their lives means the nation would turn into nothing more than a “migrant camp.”
Not all of those who serve in his administration are quite that far out there with their thinking, however.
Tuesday, White told Senator Blumenthal, speaking of himself and other Trump officials:
‘We raised a number of concerns in the program about any policy that would result in family separation, due to concerns we had about the best interests of the child… There is no question that separation of children from parents [could lead to] significant potential for traumatic injury to the child.’
The Trump administration pressed on despite these warnings. Now, horrifying stories of the treatment of detained children continue to circulate. The conditions have gotten so bad that a federal judge at one point recently ruled for an outside monitor to be appointed to cover the detention. Beyond those who were separated from their parents at the border, thousands of immigrant children remain in U.S. government custody.
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