I am writing to correct two key oversights in the Editorial Board's most recent column, "Our government must stop separating families."
First, the column falsely states as a central point of its argument that "it's not a law and it never has been" for immigration officials to separate adults and minors at the border.
Second, it bandies around the pernicious and unproven insinuation that President Trump's administration has crafted this "policy" with the express intent of causing harm to families.
To address the first oversight, a journalist need only read the AP's own denouncement of Trump's policy published last Thursday, "GOP now blames court for family separation."
Through the thick of their editorializing, the AP explains that recent court rulings require illegal entrant children be processed differently than the adults with whom they enter. To prosecute the adult entrants, children must be taken into the temporary shelters of HHS as unaccompanied minors.
With the executive order signed by President Trump on Wednesday, Attorney General Sessions is directed to ask the California federal court responsible for this restriction to modify its judgement in accommodation of detained families.
Addressing the column's second oversight, I refer to the previous two administrations and how they avoided this issue. Presidents Bush and Obama did not have to tackle the complication of separating families because they usually deported these groups of people quickly, forgoing prosecution of criminal acts and accepting the risk of reentry. AP lacks the honesty or compunction to report this.
Presidents Bush and Obama effectively gave those who happened to be with children a free pass to try crossing the finish line again, where de facto naturalization would be assumed if the undocumented evaded officials for long enough. The practice was as absurd and unfair as it sounds: Per leaked training documents from 2015, those deemed "new immigration violators" were prioritized by President Obama's Customs and Border Protection, effectively placing successful evaders in a better place on the deportation priority pecking order.
In the past, Presidents Bush and Obama decided against formally prosecuting illegal entrants who had children with them. Now, President Trump is prosecuting all illegal entrants in a “zero-tolerance policy,” and the consequences are simply beyond his control. When an adult enters the United States illegally with a minor, they should know that it is now that much more infeasible to "try again" if intercepted.
This is not an endorsement of the practice, nor Trump administration officials' foolish statements surrounding it, but a simple correction of the record to show that this really is a matter of legal bindings. Children are being harmed, and we should do everything in our power to limit that harm past what has already been caused by the adult decisions to bring them here.