There’s been one topic discussed on cable news this week, and for good reason: the Trump administration‘s separating children from their migrant parents is a despicable act of cruelty that cannot be overlooked. But as for the reason why children are being separated from their parents — well, for that, it completely depends on who in the Trump administration you ask.
First, though, the facts: Despite what Donald Trump would like you to believe, there is not a federal law mandating children and parents be separated at the border. The policy that is resulting in that outcome today was enacted in May 2018. (All reputable media, including fact-checking organization Snopes, has said nothing different.)
The long-standing policy of this country — before Attorney General Jeff Sessions made several announcements of a “Zero-Tolerance Policy” in April and May of 2018 — was that those crossing the U.S. border illegally for the first time were guilty a misdemeanor offense, but immigration officials used discretion. That means prior to the Trump administration, not all those caught illegally entering the United States were prosecuted. Once apprehended, they entered immigration proceedings and unless they met asylum requirements, were deported from the country.
But the Trump administration’s Zero-Tolerance Policy demands that adults caught crossing the border, even if for the purpose of seeking asylum, are placed in custody and prosecuted. If they have children in tow, those children are separated from their parents and detained as well. The BBC reports that “over a recent six-week period, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents after illegally crossing the border, figures released on [15 June 2018].”
More from Snopes.com:
The rumors correctly suggested that “family detention” as a whole came before the Trump administration, but as of August 2015 intact families at the border were rarely separated. Other iterations of the rumor held that the Obama administration separated more children from their parents than the Trump administration, a claim stemming from an inaccurate retelling of the fact that an influx of unaccompanied minors from Latin America crossed the border in from 2014 onward. In those instances, minor children primarily traveled without their parents.
But when it comes to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children, the American people have been completely unable to get a straight answer (or the truth) out of officials.
Let’s take a look at some of the lip service we’ve been dealt already when it comes to separating kids:
Jeff Sessions says separating kids is in the Bible, y’all!
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” he says.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders blames it on the Democrats (lies) and also cites the Bible.
“Separation of illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close. These laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade, and the Ppresident is simply enforcing them,” she says, also spouting this line of BS: “I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible.”
Sometimes-Trump-critic Lindsey Graham gets this one right.
“President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call,” says the South Carolina Senator. “I’ll go tell him, ‘If you don’t like families being separated, you can tell DHS, “Stop doing that.”‘”
Paul Ryan wants you to think it’s all because of the courts (it’s not) and immigration legislation is required to stop it. (It’s not.)
“This, I do think ought to be addressed. We believe it should be addressed in immigration legislation,” he says. “So, what’s happening at the border — the separation of parents and their children — is because of a court ruling. That’s why I think legislation is necessary.”
In this nonsensical Donald Trump quote, he does nothing but lie about separating children from their parents.
“If you notice when I came over [sic], they were all saying about separating the families [sic],” Trump says. “That’s a Democrat bill, that’s Democrats wanting to do that, and they could solve it very easily by getting together [sic], but they think it’s a good election point. I think it’s a horrible election point.”
Kellyanne Conway prefers to avoid altogether the subject of separating children from their parents.
“I certainly don’t want anybody to use these kids as leverage,” she says. “These children are handed over to HHS. Why? Because that is Health and Human Services. So that they can be put into facilities like El Cajon, where there was a report recently there were boys ages 6 to 17 who were all there. They have the necessary medications, obviously food and shelter. They have exercise. They have education during the day. And let’s get them back together.”
Ann Coulter (*shudder*) is calling the separated kids “coached” “actors.”
“They [The New Yorker] describe how these kids are being coached,” she says. “They’re being given scripts to read by liberals according to The New Yorker. Don’t fall for the actor children.”
As The Hill comments, “It’s unclear what New Yorker article Coulter was referring to.” It’s possible Coulter is referring to a New York Times article from May in which officials said migrant kids were being coached on what to say to obtain asylum following the current administration’s xero-Tolerance Policy, but that is undoubtedly not the same thing. (And we’re betting she knows that.)