ICYMI: Family Separation Defines Trump’s Presidency in the Final Days Before the Election

shocking report released this week by the House Judiciary Committee revealed that the Trump Administration moved forward with its horrific family separation policy at the border — even after it discovered that it was unable to track separated family members in a way that would facilitate eventual reunification. Of the 545 children whose parents have not yet been found, advocates have managed to reach only 183 of the children. The rest remain missing.
Family separation has been a centerpiece of Trump’s immigration policy over the past four years, and has been overwhelmingly rejected by the American people. Now as we approach the final days before the election, family separation, which is one of the most unpopular policies enacted during the last four years, is dominating the campaign. In contrast, Vice President Biden’s closing message on immigration is that simple. Families Belong Together.
Below is a look at some of the latest developments around how family separation is impacting communities across the country, as well as those seeking refuge on our shores:
  • A House committee report detailing the “first complete narrative” of the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy confirmed what largely had already been revealed publicly: that the Trump Administration secretly planned the family separations as a tactic aimed at deterring migrants from seeking asylum in the United States amid fears that their children might be taken from them. The policy particularly targeted Central American families that were fleeing towards the U.S. southern border, and the Trump Administration ran a pilot program in El Paso in 2017 before expanding it in 2018, despite concerns that there was no orderly way to track or monitor the children and their families once they were separated. FWD.us issued the following statement on the horrific findings of this report.
  • Documents in the report suggest Health and Human Services officials were not told by the Department of Homeland Security why shelters were receiving more children taken from their parents in late 2017. It has since been revealed that DHS was operating a pilot program in El Paso, Texas, that prosecuted parents for crossing the border illegally and took their children away to HHS shelters.
  • In a preview of a drastically different approach towards immigration, the Biden campaign released an ad titled “Separated,” in which Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pledged to form a task force that would reunite migrant families separated during the Trump administration. “On his first day as president, Joe Biden will issue an executive order creating a federal task force to reunite these children with their parents,” the ad says.
  • Unaccompanied migrant children suffer ‘inhumane and cruel experience’ in CBP custody. Of the children screened, 895 — nearly 1 in 10 — said they had been verbally abused by CBP officers, while 147 said they had been subjected to physical abuse. More than half of all children said they stayed in CBP custody longer than three days, in violation of a long-standing legal settlement, and just over 40 percent reported a lack of adequate food or water during their detention.
  • In a powerful analysis, 500,000 Kids, 30 Million Hours: Trump’s Vast Expansion of Child Detention, The Marshall Project found that since President Trump took office, increasingly more children have been held in detention for increasingly longer periods of time. While detention times lengthened, the number of children held at the border soared to almost half a million. “With a growing number of children seeking refuge in the U.S., the policies led to a pile-up of children in border detention centers that were never designed to care for them,” the report concludes.
  • Today, Shakira published her op-ed “The Parents of 545 Children Are Missing, and the Silence Is Dangerous,” in which she criticizes President Trump’s cruel family separation policies. “In “the land of the free,” there are 545 children now stuck in no-man’s-land, at risk of growing up without a mom or dad, 545 children who have to go to sleep without someone to reassure them that they aren’t in danger at any given moment, 545 children who can’t hug, laugh or have any contact with the people they love most,” she writes. “This is not about politics. There is simply no justification for the harm caused to these innocent children, and the people responsible for this cruel policy must be held accountable.”
  • The Trump Administration has also upended long time residents and parents of American citizens, sending them back to a life of slavery and tearing families apart. Three decades ago, the West African nation of Mauritania stripped many of its Black residents of citizenship. Subsequently, a large group of exiles formed a community in Ohio. The Obama Administration allowed them to stay in the country even after they lost their immigration cases, so long as they checked in regularly with their local ICE office and followed the law. Under the Trump Administration, ICE upended that agreement and began arresting Mauritanians at their check-ins for deportation, even as the Administration cut off trade benefits for Mauritania for failing to eliminate hereditary slavery. This is just another example of how the Trump Administration has exploited an immigration system that was already failing.
  • Earlier this week, FWD.us released the final report in a four-part installment, Deeper Into Darkness or a Chance for True Progress: The Stakes on Immigration, a prospective look at what the next four years could look like under either a second Trump term or a Biden presidency. The report outlines the stark contrast the election presents to the American people for two dramatically different potential paths ahead on immigration policy depending on the results of the presidential election.

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