A crisis of Trump’s own making


You'd think that an administration considering separating children from parents crossing the border without documentation in order to deter future border-crossers would seriously consider the consequences of its decision. Approximately how many people are crossing? How many children? How will we track parents and children once separated? What do we do with the children? How much capacity do we have? How much more do we need? How do we take care of the children once they are in our custody? Some parents will likely be in custody a few days before they are deported? How do we distinguish those parents from those who will likely require longer time to process so that we know whether to send the child or children to a local service agency or one all the way across the country.

The policy won't work over night obviously. How many months of separating thousands of families will it take for our policy of deterrence to be "effective"? Are we violating the law?

And once they decided to go with the new policy, they would get information about the policies, processes, and procedures, and resources out to all those involved in order to maximize its successful implementation. Like the Muslim ban, there seems to have been very little coordination among and within agencies - DOJ, DHS, HHS, Office of Refugee Settlement, etc. The administration failed to communicate it policy effectively to other government agencies. It also failed to figure out how to communicate its policy to the public and to the world.

After first claiming that the Bible made him do it, Attorney General Jeff Sessions now says that the Trump administration “never really intended” to separate immigrant families on the border.

But, no, that doesn't seem to have been the case with this administration and its family separation policy. You can't know all the answers ahead of time but you should know most of them.

Here is Dara Lind of Vox on Trump's executive order to end family separation in favor of family detention.
The immediate upshot of Trump’s executive order is that the infrastructure that’s been slapped together in the past several weeks to facilitate family separation will be succeeded by a slapped-together infrastructure to facilitate family detention — and deportation.
Kevin Sieff at the Washington Post investigates how different government agencies have failed to provide undocumented parents and lawyers with adequate information about what has happened to children separated from parents who the Trump administration has decided to criminally prosecute.
Government officials say they have given detained parents a flier with a toll-free number for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the U.S. agency that is usually in charge of providing shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children. But not a single one of Goodwin’s clients had received one, she said. Lawyers maintain that when they have called the number, often no one answered. In some cases, when someone did pick up, that person refused to offer details of where children had been taken, the lawyers said.
Should we be worried? Of course. Here's Lomi Kriel of the Houston Chronicle:
Under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, parents usually served just a few days of prison time for illegally crossing the border before going to immigration detention centers run by the Department of Homeland Security. From there, they can be quickly deported without their children. In one case, a Guatemalan father was deported and had no idea where his 18-month-old toddler was for five months until they were reunited in December.
That's right. We deported the man and kept his child.

There are so many stories out there that demand we hold our public officials accountable. One young man hanged himself after his kid was taken from him. A baby was taken from its mother while she was breastfeeding. We've lied to parents by telling them that their children were being taken to have a bath or shower, only to have them removed permanently. We've prevented siblings from physically comforting each other. There's some expectation that we've permanently separated families because we didn't pay enough attention to figuring out how to create a system to track separated parent and child.

Monthly border crossing apprehensions so far this year range from 20,000 - 40,000 per month. From the 1980s to the mid-2000s, we used to apprehend an average of 83,000 - 133,000 each month. Apprehensions used to be four times greater than they are today.

There are clearly challenges related to regulating the movement of people across our southern border. However, we are all suffering a crisis of Trump's own making. And people need to be held accountable.