Immigration

Family Separation: Trump’s Cruel Immigration Policy


It should be clear by now that immigrant communities remain the most vulnerable group in Trump’s America. From ending DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands of people, to enabling ICE to terrorize immigrants and their families, to making it harder for people to claim asylum at the border, the Trump administration has systematically targeted immigrants and their families with the goal of jailing or deporting as many as possible to reshape the racial makeup of our country.

The Trump administration’s family separation policy was only the latest example of the cruel measures that Trump is eager to take to terrorize immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

Are Families Being Separated Right Now?

For now, no. Since the uproar over Trump’s cruel family separation policy, the practice of separating migrant children from their parents has reportedly stopped. Now, the Trump administration is exploring ways to create a system of indefinite family detention — i.e., family jails.

Status of Family Reunifications

At the moment, the courts have intervened and instructed the administration to reunite families separated at the border. The administration appears to be reluctantly complying with the order, and slowly reuniting separated families. However, they have since missed two court-appointed reunification deadlines: the July 10th deadline for children 5 and under, and the July 26th deadline for all children over 5 years old.

It is unlikely that all separated children will be reunited with their parents for multiple reasons. For one thing, an estimated 463 parents have been deported without their children and the government has refused to provide information on how they plan to reunite these parents with their children.

Regardless of whether these families are ever reunified, the damage done to these children by forcibly separating them from their parents will last for years. The Trump administration bears sole responsibility for this crisis, and they have a legal obligation to fix this wrong and reunite all the families.

In Short: Throughout the family separation crisis and ongoing reunification process, it has been clear that the Trump administration gave no thought to how they would reunify these families or how these policies would harm children. As they continue to reunify families by court order, the fact remains the same: this crisis and its consequences are the Trump administration’s fault alone.

Courts, Courts, Courts

Right now, a huge portion of the fight is in the courts, with battles over everything from protections for children in detention to reunifying separated families. As of now, these cases have included the following:

  • A San Diego judge ruled that the Trump administration must reunify all migrant families by July 26th, with an initial deadline of July 10th for children 5 and younger. The government has since missed both deadlines: As of the July 26th deadline, over 700 immigrant children were separated from their parents, including those whose parents have already been deported.
  • The same judge also ruled that the government must temporarily stop deporting reunited families.
  • A California judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot detain immigrant children indefinitely.

We can’t control how these cases will play out. What we do know is that the Trump administration is actively trying to undermine protections for immigrant families and children to either speedily deport them en masse, or create a system of family detention facilities. As these cases continue to wind their way through the courts, the most important thing for constituents to do is make sure Congress isn’t enabling Trump’s attempt to detain and deport immigrant families.

What about Congress?

Before Congress broke for the July 4th recess, the House and Senate were contemplating multiple proposals that would codify Trump’s executive order and create a system of family jails. For the moment, those standalone proposals seem less likely to become law, but there is always the chance that Republicans could try to bring these up again.

That said, there are other ways that Congress could still act to support Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.

Right now, Congress is in the midst of passing appropriations bills to fully fund the government, including funding for the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). While the House and Senate have passed different versions of the DHS funding bill, both mean the same thing: more ICE and CBP agents to terrorize immigrant communities, more immigration detention, and more money for Trump’s wall.

  • In the House, Republicans have put forward a bill that provides $17 billion in spending for CBP, over $7 billion in spending for ICE, and a whopping $5 billion for Trump’s border wall.
  • While the Senate version does not go as far, their bill still includes over $14 billion in spending for CBP, over $7 billion for ICE., and $1.6 billion for Trump’s border wall.

Not only do these bills enable Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, they come at a time when stories are emerging concerning the horrific conditions and abuses many of the separated children have been subjected to: a shelter based out of Illinois is currently under investigation for denying children in its custody medical care, forcing them to clean the facilities, and forcibly medicating children, and a judge in Los Angeles is currently weighing further oversight of the government’s shelters in light of abuse allegations from 225 children and parents held in immigration detention facilities.

In short Republicans in Congress are intent on ramping up spending for Trump’s detention and deportation machine. MoCs need to know that it is unacceptable to spend billions of dollars to terrorize, detain, and deport immigrants.

The Bottom Line

While families are no longer being separated and many are even being reunified, the damage done by the Trump administration will have long-lasting consequences and the onus is on them to act to right these injustices. That said, Congress has a responsibility not to further enable Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. Your Member of Congress needs to continue to hear from you, the constituent, that they cannot capitulate to Trump.

What Can You Do?

Stop Congress from funding Trump’s deportation machine. Congressional Republicans are still pushing through spending bills that would fund Trump’s deportation force and immigration detention facilities. Your MoC should not vote for any bill that uses taxpayer dollars to terrorize immigrant communities.

There are also a few actions you can take more locally to fight this crisis

Call your Governor and tell them not to allow your state to be an accomplice in this atrocity. In April, President Trump called for the National Guard, which is commanded by the governor of the state where they are stationed, to be deployed to the border for immigration enforcement. Governors from 11 states—Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia—have already announced that they will withhold or recall their National Guard Soldiers from the border to ensure that their state’s resources are not being used to assist these human rights abuses. While states cannot stop this Trump-created crisis, they certainly do not have to help.

Advocate for sanctuary policies in your city/state. In response to federal enforcement actions, local governments are resisting pressure to participate in the federal government’s mass deportation program by enacting policies to protect their immigrant communities. Jurisdictions with policies like these have come to be known as “sanctuary cities.” Traditionally, a sanctuary policy is one that limits the extent to which police will help federal immigration authorities deport people. But increasingly, communities are thinking more broadly about the concept of sanctuary, and pushing their local elected officials to not only stop police from collaborating with ICE, but to make a wide range of changes to improve the lives of people in immigrant communities and promote racial justice more broadly.

Be an ally. Check out our immigrant ally toolkit to learn more about how you can join the fight locally.

Sample Call Dialogue

Call Your Members of Congress Now

Members of Congress

If your Member of Congress is a Republican

Caller: Hi! My name is [name] and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling today to tell [MoC] to oppose any efforts fund Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and vote NO on any upcoming DHS appropriations package if there is more funding for ICE and CBP.

Staffer: Thanks for calling. [MoC] believes that it is important that Congress properly secure our borders and enable our ICE agents to remove anyone who is a threat to our public safety.

Caller: From the family separation crisis to the crackdown on immigrant communities, the Trump administration has shown that they have no regard for immigrants’ well-being. Congress cannot enable Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and pass bills that would fund the mass detention and deportation of immigrants. I urge [him/her] to vote no on any spending bills that increase funding for ICE, CBP, and Trump’s wall.

Staffer: We’ll be sure to pass your message to [MoC].

Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information so you can let me know what [MoC] decides to do.

If your Member of Congress is a Democrat

Caller: Hi! My name is [name] and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling today to thank [him/her] for continuing to speak out against Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, from family separation to the ongoing terrorization of immigrant communities. I’d also like to urge [MoC] to oppose any legislation that would provide more funding to ICE, CBP, and Trump’s border wall.

Staffer: Thanks for calling. [MoC] is deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s immigration policies, particularly the family separation policy, and is troubled by the proposed spending for ICE, CBP, and the border wall. [He/she] is closely monitoring the DHS appropriations bills and evaluating them to determine if [he/she] will support it.

Caller: Thank you for letting me know. From the family separation crisis to the increased crackdown by immigration enforcement, the Trump administration has shown that they have no regard for the well-being of immigrant communities. Members of Congress should not enable Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda by increasing spending for ICE, CBP, or the wall. I urge [MoC] to oppose any legislation that would fund Trump’s mass detention and deportation machine.

Staffer: I’m happy to pass your message along to [him/her].

Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information so you can let me know what [MoC] decides to do.

State and Local

For your Governor: National Guard Call Script

Caller: Hi, my name is [name] and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling today to tell [Governor] to make a public declaration to withhold or recall our National Guard troops from the border to ensure that our state is not complicit in the atrocities occurring at the border.