Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He blamed Democrats for the immigrant child-separation policy he enacted all by himself last month.

Under recent changes to federal law enforcement policy enacted last month on Trump's orders, parents crossing the border without valid papers have had their children detained in separate facilities. (The same treatment applies to --refugees and asylum-seekers, who are legally permitted to enter in order to make application, and about half of whom are children.) On Sunday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was turned away from one such detention facility after reporting that he could see children being kept in cages through the windows.

Trump devoted one of the day's 25 tweets to the subject, claiming that "Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats." He also said that "Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together!"

In reality, no law whatsoever requires children to be separated from their parents--and if there were, Democrats would have no power to change it as the minority party in Congress. The actual reason for infants and children being detained in separate facilities from their parents is that Trump ordered a change in how deportations were conducted.

The change in policy was posted to the DOJ website on April 6 of this year, and publicly introduced at a press conference by Attorney General Jefferson Sessions on May 7. Sessions' remarks made clear that the threat of forcibly separating parents from their children was intended as a deterrent. But within weeks, as horror stories began to surface about the consequences of his new policy, Trump began insisting that it was the result of some unspecified "horrible law" that Democrats were somehow responsible for.

Several hours after Trump's tweet, the United Nations Human Rights Commission condemned the United States over the new policy:
The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles. The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns. ...Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation.

Why should this matter to me?

  • It's wrong to blame other people for your mistakes.
  • Part of having responsibility involves taking responsibility.
  • There was a time when the United States didn't have to worry about ending up on UN watch lists.
  • It's wrong to punish children for the actions of their parents.