The Washington Post gives its maximum four Pinocchios to the Trump administration for its statements on separation of family members at the Mexican border. Despite the president’s blaming Democrats for the situation, immigrant families are being separated primarily because the Trump administration in April began to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible. The zero-tolerance policy applies to all adults, regardless of whether they cross alone or with their children. The Justice Department can’t prosecute children along with their parents, so the natural result of the zero-tolerance policy has been a sharp rise in family separations.
The Trump administration implemented this policy by choice and could end it by choice, the Post says. No law or court ruling mandates family separations. In fact, during its first 15 months, the Trump administration released nearly 100,000 immigrants who were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, a total that includes more than 37,500 unaccompanied minors and more than 61,000 family members. The Trump administration is operating a system in which immigrant families apprehended at the border get split up, because children go into a process in which they eventually get placed with sponsors in the U.S. while their parents are prosecuted and potentially deported. It’s strange to behold Trump distancing himself from the zero-tolerance policy (“the Democrats gave us that law”) while Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims it doesn’t exist (“it’s not a policy”) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions defends it in speech after speech. “We do have a policy of prosecuting adults who flout our laws to come here illegally instead of waiting their turn or claiming asylum at any port of entry,” Sessions said on Monday in New Orleans. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.”