EDITORIAL: Where is Trump’s plan to reunite families separated at the border?

SHARE EDITORIAL: Where is Trump’s plan to reunite families separated at the border?

Hundreds of activists protest the Trump administration’s approach to illegal border crossings and separation of children from immigrant parents, in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, June 28. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Tell the people about your plan, President Trump.

Tell us exactly what your administration is doing to reunite infants, toddlers and other children with their migrant parents. You tore apart these families in the last few months as they crossed into the U.S. from Mexico. Some entered illegally; many requested asylum.

A 9-year-old boy named Diogo was finally reunited with his mother here in Chicago on Thursday — but only after a federal judge put his foot down. The separation, he said, “irreparably harms them both.”

When parents were taken away for prosecution of misdemeanors for illegal entry, children were snatched away and put in detention camps all over the country. A federal judge has correctly pointed out that the government does a better job keeping track of impounded cars than toddlers.

It is clear the Trump administration had no plan to reunite families from the start. It still has no plan. In his ruling on Tuesday, Federal District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw in San Diego ordered the administration to reunite children under 5 with their parents within 14 days and older children within 30 days.

There are about 2,000 kids waiting to see their moms and dads.


The Department of Homeland Security published a fact sheet last weekend that suggested it is easy for separated families to communicate via phone or video teleconferencing and to later be reunited.

The judge didn’t buy it, and said as much.

The separation of families, Sabraw wrote, “was implemented without any effective system or procedure for (1) tracking the children after they were separated from their parents, (2) enabling communication between the parents and their children after separation, and (3) reuniting the parents and children after the parents are returned to immigration custody following completion of their criminal sentence.”

Sabraw called it a “startling reality.”

The judge blistered the administration. “The unfortunate reality,” he stated in his written order, “is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process.”

We shouldn’t be surprised that Trump is a man without a plan. That would be his way.

Early last year, he imposed his initial ban against travelers from Muslim countries without seeking a bit of input from the Department of Homeland Security, which was supposed to enforce the ban.

Months later, he ordered an end to DACA, the program that gives younger undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children temporary protections from deportation. But he didn’t bother to wait for Congress to come up with a plan for what to do with the 800,000 people already in the program.

The administration decides “what outcome they want and don’t think it through with a fair and humane process,” Kate Melloy Goettel, a senior litigation attorney with the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, told us. “The result is they’re trampling on rights of immigrants over and over again.”

One begins to believe that cruelty itself might be the president’s plan.

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