Six Years Later, Trump Is Campaigning on Cruel Family Separation Policies

On the anniversary of Donald Trump instituting a policy of separating children from their parents at the border, DNC Hispanic Media Director Marco Frieri released the following statement:

“Six years ago today, the Trump administration announced a new policy of ripping children away from their parents’ arms at the border. Now, Trump is refusing to rule out reviving these inhumane policies that traumatized families and left a moral stain on our country, all while spewing hateful rhetoric about immigrants and actively sabotaging efforts to secure our border and fix our immigration system. Trump doesn’t care about solving problems; he even directed his MAGA minions in Congress to kill the bipartisan border security deal — the toughest in decades — for his own political gain. But the American people remember the horrors and despicable cruelty of Trump’s first term, and will reject his dangerous agenda again in 2024 just like they did in 2020.”

In 2018, Trump instituted his signature immigration policy: ripping children away from their parents at the border.

Politico: “On Jan. 25, 2017, Trump signed an executive order that called for the arrest and detention of people caught crossing the border illegally — a broad preview of the Department of Justice’s April ‘zero-tolerance’ decision to refer all border-crossers for federal prosecution, which has led to the separation of children from parents being sent into criminal courts.”

Politico: “The Trump administration will more frequently separate families at the southwest border under a new policy announced Monday.”

Semafor: “On Family Separation. Trump defended his policy of separating parents and children at the border, which sparked one of the largest outcries of his presidency before it was stopped by an executive order and court decision.”

Trump: “But the one thing was family separation. When you hear that you’re going to be separated from your family, you don’t come. When you think you’re going to come into the United States with your family, you come. And we did for a period of time, family separation. And others have to, by the way. But, you know, with it’s a little bit different with us. But we did family separation. A lot of people didn’t come. It stopped people from coming by the hundreds of thousands, because when they hear family separation, they say, well, we better not go. And they didn’t go.”

Arizona Republic: “The Trump administration’s 2018 family separation policy at the southern border was marked by ‘reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty,’ the House Judiciary Committee concluded in a scathing report released Thursday. The report was based on internal documents and emails not previously made public. It shows that a pilot program implemented in the El Paso area during a five-month period in 2017 revealed that the Trump administration lacked the ability to track children and parents separated at the border.”

Now, while families are still reeling from the trauma the family separation policy caused, Trump is refusing to rule out reviving it if granted a second term.

New York Times: “Former President Donald J. Trump is planning an extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration if he returns to power in 2025 — including preparing to round up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled. The plans would sharply restrict both legal and illegal immigration in a multitude of ways.

“Mr. Trump and his aides have not yet said whether they would re-enact one of the most contentious deterrents to unauthorized immigration that he pursued as president: separating children from their parents, which led to trauma among migrants and difficulties in reuniting families. When pressed, Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to rule out reviving the policy.

“Trump continues to defend his egregious immigration policies, which have had a lasting traumatic impact on the immigration system and the families involved.”

The Guardian: “The US government’s policy of separating migrant families at the border has continued to wreak havoc and inflict suffering in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency, with parents still missing, reunifications blocked and reunited families struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives.”

Trump continues to cozy up to Tom Homan, the architect of his family separation policy.

NBC News: “Trump to attend a gala with proponents of his family separation border policies”

Los Angeles Times: “Trump appears at a fundraiser for a creator of his ‘family separation’ policy”

“Trump appeared at a fundraiser Thursday at Mar-a-Lago for the Border911 foundation. The nonprofit was founded last year by Thomas Homan, a former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who helped implement and oversee the former president’s controversial ‘family separation policy’ and remains a steadfast Trump supporter.

“The policy led to the separation of about 5,000 children from adult family members who were detained for criminal prosecution under the Trump-era ‘zero tolerance’ policy. A federal judge eventually blocked the separations, and some children have still not been reunited with their families.”

The Biden administration is actively working to reunite families and provide legal and counseling services to the more than 4,000 children separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

Washington Post: “The estimated number of families separated under Trump has varied over the years because officials split up families without a plan to reunite them, making them difficult to track. In all, Biden administration officials said Monday, the previous administration separated more than 4,000 children from their parents, and most have since been returned to their families.

“The Biden administration created a task force to reunite any families who remain separated and said it has reunified at least 750 children with their parents. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the families, who were from Guatemala, Honduras and other countries, estimates as many as 1,000 children may remain apart from their parents.”

Axios: “The Trump-era ‘zero-tolerance’ policy resulted in the forced separation of thousands of migrant families who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. It was a much-criticized policy that had traumatic effects on migrant children and their parents.

“The task force launched by Biden and led by Michelle Brané has identified more than 3,900 migrant children who were separated during Trump’s tenure — more than 2,900 of whom have been reunified, many before Biden’s efforts.”

Department of Homeland Security: “By combing U.S. government records and coordinating with NGO partners to identify the separated children and their parents, the Task Force has to date identified 3,924 children who were separated between January 20, 2017 and January 20, 2021. As of February 1, 2023, 2,926 separated children have been reunified, either before the establishment of the Task Force or through the leadership of the Task Force. Of the 998 children who remain to be reunited, as of February 1, 2023, 148 children are in the process of reunification and 183 families have been informed of the opportunity to reunify by a contracted NGO. The number of new families identified continues to increase, as families come forward and identify themselves as separated under the previous administration’s zero-tolerance policy.”

Washington Post: “Biden announces efforts to reunite migrant families separated by Trump administration”

“President Biden on Tuesday announced the start of efforts to identify and reunite hundreds of families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration and remain apart years later. President Biden signed an executive order creating a task force to reunite the families, a step toward fulfilling a campaign promise.”

The Hill: “Biden task force unites more than 600 migrant children with parents”

“The Biden administration launched a website in 2021 to streamline the reunification process and allow those who were separated under the Trump administration to apply for humanitarian parole, which would allow the U.S. to admit those who otherwise may not fulfill immigration requirements.”

CNN: “The federal government will not be allowed to separate migrant families under a zero-tolerance policy like the controversial measure former President Donald Trump’s administration pursued, according to a settlement deal filed Monday. The settlement also allows those affected by the separations to apply for parole and a work permit in the US, as well as a special asylum process.

“The settlement would also set up special support services for families separated at the border under the previous administration, including immigration legal services and three additional years of behavioral health counseling. The settlement doesn’t include monetary compensation, which some families are seeking in separate claims.”