Trump Wrongly Blames Dems For Breaking Up Families | Law & Crime
Legal Analysis

Trump Wrongly Blames Democrats For Trump Policy of Separating Children From Families

On Saturday morning, President Donald Trump falsely suggested that Democrats are to blame for his administration’s recently-enacted policy of intentionally separating immigrant children from their families when they try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a tweet sent at 6:59 a.m. the 45th president wrote:

Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border [sic] into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.

While remaining more or less agnostic as to whether putting pressure on Democrats to do anything would actually result in more than a form letter or non-stop series of fundraising emails, President Trump’s suggestion here is doubly inaccurate.

To wit: (1) the “horrible law” Trump is referencing in the above tweet is not actually a law of any sort, it’s an enforcement priority; and (2) it’s an enforcement priority enacted only recently by Trump’s own administration.

The first point:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been opposed to Trump’s child-separation policy since it was first whispered about and has filed a lawsuit to enjoin the administration from continuing the controversial practice.

Here’s the kicker: while arguing against the ACLU’s position, the Department of Justice admitted that their child-separation policy was not required by any law or statute. Simply put, there’s no “horrible law” for Democrats or anyone to rescind that bears directly on the administration’s child-separation policy.

The second point:

At a May 7 speech in front of law enforcement professionals, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III outlined the new policy. He said, “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

The Trump administration floated trial balloons about the child-separation policy as early as December 2017. But the actual policy appears to have gone into effect some months before that. how As of October 2017, the New York Times reported in excess of 700 children had been taken away from their families–including over 100 children under the age of 4.

Those numbers were from April. According to a recent report, the Trump administration has “lost” some 1,475 immigrant children after taking them away from their parents. Sessions’ comments on May 7 simply confirmed the administration’s already-enacted enforcement priority–a policy that’s been in effect for roughly eight months.

University of Texas Law Professor Steve Vladeck noted:

The “horrible law that separates children from their [sic] parents” is actually a new policy that _your_ administration adopted. Take some responsibility, for once.

In sum: Trump is blaming Democrats for his own pet policies–enacted mere months ago. There is no law requiring those policies and this has been admitted to by the DOJ’s own lawyers.

[image via Olivier Douliery – Pool and Getty Images]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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