The harsh realities of President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policy at the southern US border have recently been thrust into the international spotlight, after a recording published by American not-for-profit investigative journalism outlet ProPublica this week.
The audio, which has now been circulated all over the internet, exposes desperate sobs coming from Central American children who have been separated from their parents by immigration authorities at the US border.
“Papi, papi,” screamed one boy, between tears. Only to be attended by a security guard, who sarcastically responded, “well, we have an orchestra here.”
The harrowing audio tape’s release comes after footage was recently divulged by US customs and border protection showing children in what look to be cage-like structures, as part of the temporary shelter offered to minors who have been forcibly separated from their parents.
Video released by US Customs and Border Protection from inside a Texas immigration facility shows children and adults held in cages pic.twitter.com/mViEQBmcnh
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) June 18, 2018
Just today, it was reported that President Trump has signed an executive order to “keep families together,” with the zero-tolerance policy that detains families who arrive illegally to the US border remaining in place. What he did not specify, however, was how long the families would be kept together for.
Allegedly swayed by pressure from his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, and daughter Ivanka, the US President claimed he changed his mind because he “did not like the sight of families being separated.”
Original legislation meant that, in the instance a family is arrested attempting to enter the country, some children who have made the often dangerous journey to the States with their parents were not legally allowed to remain with their parents under arrest.
According to US legislation, there were three main legal grounds upon which to justify their separation. Most importantly, the US State legally had the right to separate children from their parents if there was no documentation to confirm their relationship: almost a given in the majority of illegal migrant cases. Border officials also had the right to separate adult and child if there was any suspicion of human trafficking or human smuggling.
In a press conference that took place yesterday, 19th June, President Trump put the critical situation down to “loopholes in federal law, which mean that families who arrive illegally to the US southern border may not be detained together. These are crippling loopholes which cause family separation, which we don’t want,” he added, blaming the problem on the Democrats.
I want to take a moment to address the current illegal immigration crisis on the Southern Border…it has been going on for many, many decades… pic.twitter.com/1F7EK9Ef88
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 19, 2018
Illegal immigration into the US is currently at an all-time high. Addressing journalists this Monday 18th June at the White House, Kirstjen Nielsen, the US secretary of Homeland Security, explained how each of the last three months have seen a 50,000 person increase in illegal entries. This, along with a 325% increase in unaccompanied children and 435% increase in families since this time last year, has meant a 1,700% increase in asylum claims.
“This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border. We have a statutory responsibility that we take seriously to protect alien children from human smuggling, trafficking and other criminal actions while enforcing our immigration laws,” she said.
In order to address the problem, Nielsen suggested three legal changes that must be implemented. Firstly, the 2008 Trafficking Victims Prevention Reauthorization Act must be amended, she claimed, so that families are not encouraged to place children in the care of smugglers who claim they will ensure their entry into the US. She also emphasised the need to amend the US asylum system in order to be able to help those who most need it. Thirdly, she stated, the Flores Settlement Agreement must be altered and more funding must be provided by Congress so that families can be kept together for sufficient periods of time.
Yesterday, 19th June, UNICEF denounced President Trump’s policy, outlining that it implied traumatic experiences for children, making them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuses.
“Complying with migration laws and protecting children’s rights is not a strategy that benefits everyone,” the agency’s spokesperson, Christophe Boulierac, stated, insisting that the United States prioritise the well-being of minors.
US policy is particularly relevant for Colombia at the moment, whose new President-elect Iván Duque is looking to strengthen commercial ties with the US, in line with his plans to boost foreign investment.
Duque himself has a personal relationship with the States, having received higher education in Washington and lived over 10 years of his professional career there, working at the Inter-American Development Bank.
“The United States congratulates Iván Duque for his election as Colombia’s new President,” stated US spokeswoman Heather Nuaert, following Duque’s victory in this Sunday’s vote. “We send our regards to the country for its strong democracy and we reaffirm our admiration for its people and institutions,” she added.
As part of his campaign, Duque even took a trip to Washington in March this year to rally support, which is also a stronghold for Colombian voters. In fact, there are 62 polling stations spread across the US.
As President, Duque plans to preserve the US bipartisan support that Colombia has counted on over the last decades, as well as ridding the Colombia-US agenda of drug trafficking discussions completely.
Thus far, the newly elected President is yet to comment on the recent controversy surrounding Trump’s immigration policy. According to the Migration Policy Institute, up to 130,000 Colombians are undocumented migrants in the US, mainly concentrated in the states of Florida and New York.
For now, however, it remains uncertain as to whether the recent scandal will have any affect on US-Colombia relations. It is indeed down to the US government to ensure that their immigration legislation is humanitarian. In the words of Homeland Security Secretary, “Congress and the courts created this problem and congress alone can fix it.”
How about keeping the law and apply for immigration the way law abiding people do? Don’t these people think they are cheating and jumping in front of thousands of others who want to go there legally?
Why should we tolerate this behaviour?
President Trump hasn’t changed any laws or regulations that pertain to separating kids from adults. Those remain the same. Separation happens only if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, or is a threat to the child, or is put into criminal proceedings.
When a migrant is held for illegal entry they are taken into custody and any children are eventually placed in temporary shelters. Unless a migrant claims asylum because of religious, political or other persecution, they are typically returned with their kids to their home country within a few days.
IF they claim asylum and have all the protections we give for that (including 10 days to get an attorney), the adults will typically be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold kids as a result of the Flores v. Reno Consent Decree from 1997 under the Clinton administration in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and others and the 2016 9th Circuit Court of Appeals out of California enforcing that decree and specifically finding it to include accompanied minors. Children cannot be held in detention centers for more than 72 hours – even if they are with their parents. The Consent Decree originally was to terminate no later than 2002, but in 2001, the parties stipulated that it would terminate “45 days following defendants’ publication of final regulations implementing this Agreement.” The government has not yet promulgated those regulations and the court said that the terms of the 1997 Consent Decree “does not address the potentially complex issues involving the housing of family units and the scope of parental rights for adults apprehended with their children.” No government, Democrat or Republican controlled, has done so FOR THE LAST 17 YEARS. The Court’s opinion places one of the reasons on 9/11 and more restrictive immigration controls since. Yet, in 2008, Congress enacted the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 which codified into law most of the Flores Settlement.
1.The government is required to “release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to their adult relatives or licensed programs willing to accept custody.” They have to be released within 20 days … even if their parents are still in detention.
2.If a suitable placement is not immediately available, the government is obligated to place children in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and any special needs.
3.The government must implement standards relating to the care and treatment of children in immigration detention.
We are a representative democracy with three equal branches of government, so even if Trump or even Obama wanted to “change the law”, they can’t.
Congress can change or adopt the rules so the Flores Consent Decree will no longer apply or will deal with this issue. In other words, it can do the same thing it could have been doing since 1997 and hasn’t … whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats. BTW: I’ll be the first to admit the situation is a mess. The 9th Circuit Court even said as much in its decision.
One possible solution is to let the parent decide if they want their child to stay with them in a detention facility or be placed outside with family or others. Again though that will undoubtedly require court approval of regulations promulgated under Flores. Without those regulations from Congress and probable approval from the courts, presidents are left with two choices …. virtually open borders for anyone that has a child with them or separation of children from parents and those claiming to be their parents until their legal status is determined.
Instead of complaining on the internet about the president, urge Congress to fix the problem … as much as it’s possible to “fix” a humanitarian crisis.
Better yet … offer your time, talent and treasure to organizations helping these kids on the border or to organizations working to improve living conditions in their home countries.
Children were separated from their illegal alien parents in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Democrats only started caring about it this year. They either just realized it was happening or they only care about making President Trump look bad.
If Columbia doesn’t like US policy and our President, they can take their pile of crap to the EU. We Americans have HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR DOPE CARTELS, DOPE AND YOUR VILE STUPIDITY. You are NOT in charge of the USA. Got that?
American citizens that marry Colombians that have not been involved in illegal activities should be allowed to live in the U.S. with their American spouse. Do not stereotype all Colombians as bad people and likewise do not stereotype all Americans as bad….some of us were smart enough to not vote for Trump!!!
Fake news! This is NOT a Trump policy ….Its a US law and has been on the books for almost 20 years. When Obama did this same thing nobody gave a sh.t…you want the US to not care about the Colombians keep up the fake news. And this is coming from one of the most dangerous country in the world as per The World Economic Forum & the World Atlas & the United Nations Human Rights council.