The Shocking Facts Of Trump's Family Separation Bill
In April 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would begin pursuing a “zero-tolerance policy" towards adults who illegally cross the border from Mexico into America. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said when announcing the new policy. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Because of a 1997 court settlement, the law dictates that children are to be detained at the border while their cases are processed. Later this rule was amended to include those who cross the border with their parents and unaccompanied minor who cross alone. As such, children who are caught crossing the border – some as young as 18-months-old – are immediately detained by the Department of Health and Human services and classed as “unaccompanied alien children”; a category which covers children who voluntarily arrive at the border on their own. While their parents are placed in custody and face prosecution, the children are placed in detention centres.
In the six weeks from mid-April to May 2018, nearly 2,000 immigrant children were separated from their families at the border, and around 2,342 children from early May to early June.
Throughout the last week, reports have surfaced that state the minors are being kept in metal fenced cages in south Texas. Yesterday, border patrol officials allowed reporters to visit the facility, but they were not allowed to take pictures or interview detainees. However, the Associated Press described what it’s like inside one of the cages, revealing: “One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn’t know because the child’s aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She had to show others in the cell how to change the girl’s diaper.”
As for Trump? He's sticking to his guns: “I don’t want children taken away from parents" he said earlier this week. "And when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally – which should happen – you have to take the children away."
What are people saying?
As expected, huge quanities of people are vehemently against this ruling. Hundreds of heartbreaking pictures of young children sleeping in cages and crying for their parents have been shared, and many have called the treatment of these minors “government-sanctioned child abuse”. Even Melania Trump has expressed concern over the policy – a spokesperson for Melania stated that the First Lady "hates to see" the children separated from their families and supports "successful immigration reform".
American celebrities have rebuked the law too, with many sharing pictures and messages across their social media accounts with information on how to fight the law and help the families – Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend each donated £72,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union, which defends the rights and humanity of vulnerable families; while others, like actress Olivia Wilde, have Instagrammed a particular picture containing a government phone number instructions on how to officially oppose the treatment of immigrants at the border.
What happens next?
The Trump administration is under immense pressure to do something. But given that Trump’s main focus as president was to enforce stricter rules on immigration policies, it seems unlikely that he will reverse his zero-tolerance stance. Furthermore, Sessions has argued that the move is “necessary” to deter migrants from crossing the border illegally, while Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly has also defended the crisis, saying: “The name of the game is deterrence”.
However, if you would like to help, there are ways in which you can donate to the minors. Save the Children have a Children’s Emergency Fund where you can donate money for the families currently being detained at the border. Visit SaveTheChildren.org to find out more.
You can also support the lawyers who are fighting for the stuck families – thanks to a successful Facebook initiative, more than $4m has been raised for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a non-profit for immigration services in Texas. You can now donate to their website, visit raicestexas.org for more information.
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