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News > World

US Protests Against Border Separations, How We Got Here

  • Demonstrators listen to Rev. Al Sharpton speak during a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol to call on the Trump administration to stop separating children from their families at the U.S. border in Washington, U.S., June 19, 2018.

    Demonstrators listen to Rev. Al Sharpton speak during a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol to call on the Trump administration to stop separating children from their families at the U.S. border in Washington, U.S., June 19, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 June 2018

Massive U.S. protests planned against President Trump's policy to separate immigrant families at its border, Trump claims again it's the "laws" fault.

Demonstrations Against Families Separations at Border:

Protests were held outside of Capitol Hill on Tuesday against President Donald Trump’s arbitrary policy to separate children from their parents as they try to enter at the country’s southern border. Nationwide demonstrations are set for June 30.

#TrumpCamps: Mexico, Central American Nations Decry US Policy of Separating Immigrant Families

According to the Families Belong Together website, approximately 100 cities across the nation are planning to demonstrate against the president’s policy that has forcefully separated 2,000 families at the border between April 19 through May 31.

Social media is alit with the hashtag, #keepfamiliestogether discussing the administration’s uptick of separating families and holding children in cages allowing little to no communication between parents and their kids. Recently released information of children crying for their parents has incited celebrities, politicians and average people from around the world to call the president’s practice as “cruel”, “atrocious”, “inhumane”, “immoral”, “shameful” and “heartbreaking.”

Law? What Law?

Meanwhile, the administration has tried to call this practice the law and is placing blame for its own policy on U.S. Democrats and previous congressional sessions. "It's a law passed by the United States Congress," Director of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen, said in a press conference on Monday. "Rather than fixing the law, Congress is asking those of us who enforce the law to turn our backs on the law and not enforce the law."  

Former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram said Nielsen’s statements are "completely a falsehood."

"Nothing could be further from the truth. The law does not require (family separation). I think everything she said confirmed that this is a policy and it's a choice that they're making."

On Tuesday, the president tried again to blame Democrats for what he called "loopholes" in the legislation that requires families detained for entering the country illegally either to be separated or released.

"These are crippling loopholes that cause family separation, which we don't want," the president said.

President Trump arrived went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening to meet with House of Representatives Republicans to discuss their immigration legislation, which Reuters says is focused on winning congressional funding for a border wall, rather than addressing the family separation issue.

Nielsen and a DHS communique said on Monday that separating families as a policy was a "myth." However, the Washington Post reported in April of a leaked White House memo calling on the director to adopt "a stark change in policy that would result in the separation of families that until now have mostly been kept together."

When It Began:

The administration’s sudden uptick in separating families happened in mid-April just as hundreds of Central American caravan immigrants were making their way the length of Mexico to the U.S. southern border in search of asylum. Many were coming from Honduras trying to escape the increase in gang and government violence after the allegedly fraudulent, and U.S.-backed, presidential elections last November.

As the hundreds of asylum seekers reached the U.S. ports of entry they were stalled for days by authorities. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials told them they couldn’t enter the U.S. to apply for asylum, allowed under international law, "until space becomes available."

This stall tactic forced families that had traveled hundreds of miles to try to cross the border "illegally" at non-port entries, in which case they are picked up by border patrol agents who are holding them in custody, rather than prosecuting them.  This practice gives the government the legal leverage to separate families because kids can’t be detained with parents in a criminal jail. Washington has given border patrol agents the discretion to declare the kids entered the U.S. with traffickers, even though these claims are repeatedly countered at the border with birth certificates and other documents that the adults are, indeed, their parents or legal guardians.

That way, they can be separated from their parents and treated as "unaccompanied alien minors."

According to CNN, the use of the tactic rose in order to deter immigrant border crossing, but statistics show that the number of the undocumented trying to reach the United States actually rose about 5 percent in the last six weeks since the crackdown on separations was implemented.

The Trump administration had already separated some 700 families between October and April.

On Tuesday about 600 members of the United Methodist Church issued a formal complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fellow church member, saying he’s accountable" to the church but is using his “power” to violate church rules and principles on child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and "dissemination of doctrines contrary" to the church.

Late last week Sessions tried to cite the Bible as an argument as to why the public should accept his edict and "obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order."

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