Toss a few more on the vast pile of lies we know the Trump administration has told about its cruel family separation policy. Sen. Jeff Merkley released a draft memo, leaked by a whistleblower, showing that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security thoroughly gamed out different ways they could tear children from their parents and use it as a deterrent to keep migrants from seeking asylum at the border.
The memo dates to December 2017, when border crossings were dramatically lower than in December 2016, yet is titled “Policy Options to Respond to Border Surge of Illegal Immigration.” In the memo and in comments on it, Trump administration officials floated the possibility of taking children from their parents but then denying them a hearing before an immigration judge and deporting the whole family—without necessarily reunifying them first. “It appears that they wanted to have it both ways,” ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said. “To separate children from their parents but deny them the full protections generally awarded to unaccompanied children.”
The draft memo also considered restricting green cards available to abused, abandoned, or neglected children, as well as previewing the policy of intensive background checks of people who agreed to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children. Publicly, the Trump administration claims that this is for the safety of the children—children they held in detention camps—but the memo acknowledged that the policy would lead to kids being held longer.
A lot of Trump administration policies are based on whim-tweets by Donald Trump and then implemented by his loyal flunkies. This was not. This was carefully gamed-out cruelty to children.