Thousands of children were forcefully separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border under President Donald Trump’s brutal “zero-tolerance” policy earlier this year. While the adults were sent to immigrant detention centers, kids – some as young as a few days old – were taken to separate facilities.
However, while immigrant families were being ripped apart and activists across the country were protesting the inhuman practice, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was adamant the Trump administration had not instituted any such policy.
“This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border,” she told reporters at the time.
Nielsen even reiterated her claims on social media.
We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) June 17, 2018
The memo, signed by Nielsen herself, was sent by Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan, Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services L. Francis Cissna and Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan.
The Open the Government and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to the memo, dated April 23, the DHS secretary was presented with three options to increase immigration enforcement at the Southern border – and the authorities opted for “Option 3.”
It reportedly entailed prosecuting migrants who crossed the border illegally. It also included those who entered the U.S. with children, as it was the “most effective method to achieve operation objectives and the administration's goal to end catch and release.”
“DHS could also permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted,” read the memo.
To put it simply, family separation wasn’t just a by-product of the “zero-tolerance policy” – it was the policy.
To be honest, Nielsen’s denial was absurd from the very beginning.
She went to great lengths to claim neither President Donald Trump nor his administration had enacted a policy that would separate families at the border, even though the “zero tolerance” policy, which sought to prosecute every undocumented immigrant, did that anyhow.
In order to take legal action such asylum seekers, the Border Patrol officials had to arrest all adults that entered the United States without proper permission. Since some of them were with children, they were forcefully split up. While adults went to adult jails, kids were sent to a separate location.
It is important to mention over scores of immigrant children are still languishing in U.S. detention facilities under horrible conditions without their families. In some cases, the authorities have been unable to trace their parents, while the guardians of hundreds of incarcerated kids have already been deported.
Nielson’s lie shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since almost everyone in the Trump administration appears to have a penchant for using falsehoods when faced with a political obstacle. Even the commander-in-chief has a well-documented history of going back on his word and shamelessly lying to the public despite contradicting evidence.
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