As more stories come to light about immigrant children being taken from parents at the border, Trump blames his administration’s policy on Democrats

About three weeks ago, on May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero tolerance” policy at southern border. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you,” Sessions said at the time. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you,” he continued. “And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”

Yesterday, though, Donald Trump blamed this cruel, and increasingly unpopular policy, which he called “horrible,” on “the Democrats.”

Here’s the tweet.

[As terrible as this was, it wasn’t even Trump’s most egregious lie of the day. He also claimed that a government official who briefed reporters two days ago “doesn’t exist.”]

Here, with more background, is an excerpt from Vanity Fair.

…(T)he idea that Democrats are responsible for what is happening at the border is nonsense. As the Associated Press notes, the previous “catch and release” policy Trump and his administration cite as the reason for increased border crossings was put into place in 2008 by then-president George W. Bush, and was primarily created to combat the influx of children fleeing to the U.S. from Central American countries due to a surge of child-trafficking. Under Trump, however, that policy has changed. In the past, the Office of Refugee Resettlement traditionally placed unaccompanied minors—that is, children who cross the border without a parent—in government-run detention centers. If a parent and a child came together, they would be processed together. In recent months, however, the Trump administration has begun forcibly taking children from their parents—some as young as one year old—and warehousing them in facilities far away from their parents, as if they had crossed the border alone.

The new policy has seen about 700 children separated from their parents since October, and the problem is only getting worse. A HuffPost report shows that the O.R.R. is already struggling with the number of refugees in its custody, and has struggled to keep track of where many of them have been placed. The office has already lost about 1,500 children, a Health and Human Services official revealed last month:

“Until recently, families that illegally crossed together generally faced deportation proceedings in civil court. But as of this month, the Trump administration is following a blanket policy of referring for prosecution all people who cross illegally. The change means that authorities send parents to jails run by the U.S. Marshals Services and their children wind up in the same agency as minors who came to the U.S. without their parents ― sometimes without their parents being able to locate them.”

Despite Trump’s attempts to shift blame for these bad headlines to Democrats, the policy is all his own. As chief of staff John Kelly told NPR in an interview three weeks ago, the plan to forcibly separate mothers from their children was explicitly designed as a “tough deterrent” to scare immigrants from trying to enter the U.S. “The children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever,” he said flippantly. “But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.” He also implied that those who wished to come across the border were “overwhelmingly rural” people who would find assimilating into the U.S. difficult. “They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well. They don’t have skills.”…

As you can imagine, the response to this most recent lie of Trump’s has been both swift and overwhelming. Here are my two favorites.

“Terrified children are being separated from their parents pursuant to your Administration’s policy, Mr. President. You have power to stop it. Do you really think our nation can’t see how you use their suffering as mortar for your wall? Have you no shame, no sense of decency?”Congressman Adam Schiff

“The incompetence of the officials separating these children from their parents means there’s no guarantee they’ll ever be returned. John Kelly tells us they’ll be taken care of ‘or whatever.’ This is the crushing brutality of indifference.”Former Direct of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub

To Schiff’s point, I’m sure Trump will come out today, justifying his tweet by saying that this is the Democrat’s fault because, by denying him his ridiculous, expensive and ineffective border wall, they’ve left him no choice but to destroy the lives of those families seeking asylum in the United States. The fact remains, however, that the policy is his, and his alone, and it reflects both the cruelty and racism that underpin his entire agenda… And, for what it’s worth, you can be absolutely sure his policies pertaining to the treatment of those crossing our southern border would not be any less cruel if a wall were in place.

Oh, and I liked this comment too. It’s from journalist turned television writer David Simon.

[note: The image at the top of this post comes by way of an unknowing Jim Carrey.]

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  1. Kat
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    They may not be the sickest fuckers the world has even known, but they’re close, and they’re getting closer every day.

  2. Eel
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    My guess is that there are different rules for families crossing the northern border.

  3. Posted May 27, 2018 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    David Simon is on fire over this. I wish more people were.

  4. TeacherPatti
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Re: the Simon retweet and with apologies to Chandler Bing…can she BE any more tone deaf? What the actual fuck is wrong with these people?!

    Simon’s feed is awesome. I learned a new word! #scrotelick

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    We really need to be clear that this happened under Obama too during his immigration crack down. In face the children who were ‘lost’ happened under his watch. He allowed all those kids in and then did nothing to place them adequately. This is a horror and we should be outraged, But we should hold some outrage at ourselves for politicizing it. When a Gem we like is in office we let this shit go unnoticed. It’s a bad look, liberals.

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    (pardon as always for typos. I need to disable autocorrect. ) So the separation off kids from families is happening and has happened before, just to be clear. Maybe not on this scale. We’ll see. The 1700 children who can not be accounted for, well that happened under Obama and I’m sure Trump didn’t help. But we aren’t holding kids and the broader and then immediately losing them (You didn’t imply that Mark, but people are conflating the two stories.
    The horror of US immigration is not new. It was never a reflection of the place we view ourselves as being. I’d be thrilled if we took immigration reform seriously and stopped forcing the laborers we need to use illegal and dangerous means to get here. If we care, we should be calling for that.
    Right now, while this is important, it just seems like another reason to hate Trump, but the responsibility is broader. It’s on us too. Outrage is a means of deflecting blame. We own this shit. Obama did it. We either care all the time or we don’t care at all. And I think, outside of getting our political rocks off, most people don’t care in the US. Or we would have fixed this relatively easy problem to fix by figuring out a new immigration policy.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Useful context on the ‘missing kids’.
    Two separate issues.
    I apologize for my cynicism re immigration. These people should not have to cross illegally. We benefit economically and culturally from them. Border Patrol has largely been non-violent up until now. The horror happened in endless detention and in a system that takes decades to complete requests for asylum etc placing people in limbo and in deportation jeopardy. And in detention (not at the border) we have been separating families for decades. It doesn’t make for as good imagery to see families separated in INS courtrooms I guess.

    I’m glad we care. I hope we collectively care past more than a few internet posts. Because this immigration reform is last on the lefts lists of concerns in polling regularly. And it’s not even that high among the GOP (5th) so in many ways this crap is our fault. We have a huge problem we aren’t trying hard enough to fix. And the fix would make everything work much more cleanly and protect most immigrants from abuse.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    If you look back pre-Reagan there was a regular flow of people and workers back and forth to Mexico without much trouble. The border patrol set up check points 30 miles away from the border.

    It was a don’t ask don’t tell, don’t commit a major crime era. And it worked ok, except for the wages. What we have now is much much worse.

    Reagan politicized the issue. And we all fell for it. And the one thing that’s certain is that once an issue is politicized, identified as either right or left, it will not be solved.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    “There are 2 big things going on in the news with immigrant children and they’re very different: 1) kids who are not unaccompanied are being separated from parents by CBP. This is new, horrible, and 100% not required by any law. It needs to stop immediately. 2) unaccompanied children have been released from custody by ORR who keeps kids in custody for CBP. Releasing kids (usually to family or people chosen by family) is generally very good, although we have been advocating for years for procedures to be better to prevent outcomes like releasing kids to traffickers. (Consider, though, that sometimes family members are traffickers. That’s not exclusive to immigrant communities, but it is tough to anticipate.) It’s probably NOT helpful to be outraged about ORR “losing” kids that they released and then couldn’t find when they followed up later. You are essentially calling for a probation-style alternative to full release with tons of post-release law enforcement-style monitoring and consequences that would mean fewer kids get released because sponsors would rightly fear getting involved in an aggressive government system that could have devastating consequences for them if, say, a teen runs away or the family has immigration status issues. At a minimum, it doesn’t make sense to me to punish ORR for checking in with families post-release to try to understand some post-release realities. Voluntary post-release legal and social services funded by government but independently-provided are the right policy solution.”

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2018 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    What I’m seeing on social media is a lot of action coalescing around the 1500 missing children and very little simply asking border patrol to follow the existing rules and not separate families at the border. So our outrage could make things worse.
    Please note that un documented minors were being released to sex traffickers occasionally pre-2014 (Obama era) when rules were made more strict about release. But we don’t actually want follow up after release. The system is not kind to kids. Why the hell would we want to put these kids in it for any longer than necessary if they face no real risk.

  11. Lynne
    Posted May 29, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I got into it over the weekend a little bit with someone who was blaming the Democrats for this. I just said that it wasn’t worth arguing about whose fault it is but rather it is the responsibility of those in power now to fix this.

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