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Chaos Reigns after Trump’s Backdown on the Separation of Immigrant Families

Media outlets across the political spectrum seemed to agree on only one point: The Trump executive order stopping the separation of immigrant children from their arrested parents is proving to be immediately chaotic. No one seems to know exactly how this is supposed to work.

Again, a simple plea from this citizen: How about thinking things through before you pull the trigger on policy changes?

Here’s where things seemed to stand:

  • For the 2,300 children detained since May, it was unclear that they would be reunited with families any time soon. Then, the government said 500 had been reunited since May, which may not include the full 2,300 still detained, and that three were sent to parents from the facility that the first lady, Melania Trump, visited yesterday, triggering a side discussion about her jacket reading, “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?”
  • For 10,000 other children detained as minors who crossed the border illegally by themselves, the executive order is silent.
  • The federal government must go to court under a previous court order that sets a 20-day clock on the detainment of immigrant families with children. If their cases are not considered in that time period, the government must either free the families or, by consent, deport all of them — exactly the kind of change in the law that the president is seeking legislatively.
  • The Defense Department is being tapped to provide housing for families with children crossing the border, which may mean constructing containment buildings. The Pentagon said it had been told to prepare for at least 20,000 detainees.
  • The more severe of two congressional, Republican bills meant to solve immigration lost in a House vote, and the more “moderate” version was delayed. The importance is that even among Republicans, there is deep division, while Democrats are withholding support for either approach.
  • Other immigrant populations, like the DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, were left totally adrift. Meanwhile, ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement police, raided a Midwest meat-processing factory and arrested 146 as illegal immigrants without, of course, charging any manager or owner.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ rulings that neither gang violence or domestic violence could be counted in claims of asylum requests continued to exasperate the futility of a lot of the claims for special treatment at the border. Indeed, a tiny percentage of asylum requests are being okayed.
  • Trump himself issued tweets and held a rally in which he downplayed his reversal of his own policy.

So, bottom line, though there was a lot of cheerleading on various sides, there was agreement only on the idea that things are confusing for all parties and the issues remain unresolved.
On Thursday, Trump suggested many asylum seekers are essentially crisis actors who are coached to say “passwords” to enter the United States. “We shouldn’t be hiring judges by the thousands, as our ridiculous immigration laws demand, we should be changing our laws, building the Wall, hire Border Agents and Ice and not let people come into our country based on the legal phrase they are told to say as their password,” Trump tweeted.

The tweet followed days after a speech in which Trump alleged asylum seekers “have professional lawyers… and they tell these people exactly what to say. They say, ‘say the following’ — they write it down — ‘I am being harmed in my country, my country is extremely dangerous, I fear for my life’ — ‘say that, congratulations, you’ll never be removed’,” Trump said. “This is being given to them by lawyers that are waiting for them to come up… in a way, that’s cheating.”

Trump also continued to beat up on Democrats for not caving into Trump’s demands to build the Wall, reduce legal immigration as well, and to eliminate requirements to remain eligible for a positive ruling.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, someone is eligible for asylum if he or she meets the following criteria: Any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Nevertheless, from 2012 to 2017, the majority of asylum cases from Mexico, Haiti, El, Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — the top five nationalities who had asylum decisions during that time — were denied.

Mother Jones and other outlets have reported ports of entry don’t have enough resources to process all asylum claims, meaning families have to camp out for days on end just to have the opportunity to get their cases heard. Many have been turned away.

It remains a mess.

June 22, 2018