The new Trump policy means instead of treating asylum seekers who voluntarily surrender or families with minor children or pregnant women as civil immigration cases and transferring them to civil court, the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions treats them all as criminals and remands them to jail awaiting criminal court proceedings.
Because of this decision by President Donald Trump enacted upon advice from Stephen Miller, approximately 2,000 children were separated from their parents beginning in May. Children cannot be placed in adult jails or prisons with their families so they have to be separated under this new policy.
The Trump administration policy change caused overcrowding and a crisis of where to house all the children being taken from their families. They’re now proposing a tent city in the Texas summer heat to handle the overflow.
Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon requested access to a former Walmart where some of the children are being housed. After he was refused access, but made the trip to Texas anyway, a brighter spotlight was shined on the effects of Trump’s zero tolerance policy.
The Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with finding housing for all the children, then allowed reporters to tour the facility, but not to take pictures or video. Subsequent video was officially released showing facilities detaining the children and an audio tape of crying children was leaked.
The warehousing of the children, affected by Sessions new marching orders and the actions of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s agents at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), quickly drew criticism which only grew after the video and audio went public. People around the world as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) made statements condemning Trump’s new policy.
Since public outcry began, the Trump administration tried everything possible to deflect blame for their new policy. Some try to blame nonexistent laws, Democrats and even President Barack Obama for the Trump policy change. Others have cited the Bible as justification for the policy. Nielsen initially claimed the policy did not even exist, but quickly changed her tune.
But voters in the United States took note of the policy change and are giving credit for the warehoused crying caged children where the credit is due: on the shoulders of the president.