President Donald Trump said that the US will not be a “migrant camp.” The president is trying to defend a controversial policy that involves separating migrant children from their parents at the border. The policy has attracted outrage all over the country. Trump also added that the United States will not be a “refugee holding facility.” He appeared to ignore the increased backlash in the country.
The Department of Homeland Security confirmed later in a statement that 2,000 children have been separated from their families. The “zero-tolerance” policy has angered politicians from both sides of the political divide including human rights activists and religious leaders. The policy has been termed as cruel and inhumane.
However, the President shifted responsibility for the separations to Congress and in particular Democrats. Trump claims that his administration is simply enforcing “horrible laws” and that the Democrats are “strongly at fault” for this. The President requested from Congress to change the laws in order to stop this.
However, despite Trump’s assertions, there’s no law in the US that mandates migrant children to be separated from their parents at the border. Past administrations have also avoided this practice. The separations come as a result of the “zero-tolerance” policy that was enacted by the White House a few months ago. The policy changes mandate that all illegal migrants who are caught trying to cross the US border be prosecuted. Since children cannot be held in federal jails while their parents await trial, they are removed and are held in detention facilities.
It doesn’t look like the Trump administration will back down despite the negative reaction to this policy. DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen said categorically that the administration won’t apologize for enforcing the law. Sessions, the US Attorney General, on the other hand, stood by the policy saying that “illegal actions should and must have consequences.” Sessions also blamed previous administrations for taking a soft stance on law enforcement which he claims has led to the current crisis. The AG also said that the administration doesn’t want separate the children from their families.
The Trump administration has been accused of using the child separation policy as a bargaining tool to secure funding for the wall across the southern border. Building a border wall was one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises to his support base but attempts to secure funding for the proposal have fallen through in Congress.
The zero-tolerance policy, however, has drawn criticism from key figures in the country including the first lady Melania Trump. Former First Lady Barbara Bush also weighed in on the matter calling the policy cruel. John McCain, a strong critic of Trump and a senior GOP member also condemned family separations at the border. McCain said in a tweet that the US must never use children as deterrence and requested from the President to end the policy. However, the White House has made it clear that it doesn’t intend to change anything.