“Now the federal government has created a policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, which could dramatically increase the number of minors encountering immigration officials by themselves and create potential for expanded abuses.” — The ACLU
MINNEAPOLIS — Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday in cities across the United States and around the world to march against the Trump administration’s implementation of its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents.
Organized by MoveOn.org, more than 750 “Families Belong Together” protests took place with three demands:
- That separated migrant families be reunited immediately.
- That the government end family detentions.
- That the Trump administration end its zero tolerance policy.
Marchers, the media, and organizers took to social media to share glimpses into the event:
— Karen R. Sanderson (@KRS_RogueShark) July 1, 2018
— Katherine C. Donahue (@kdonahue36) June 30, 2018
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) June 30, 2018
— Families Belong Together March (@WomenBelong) June 30, 2018
— AltAndiii-#StillFighting (@dizzle5000) June 30, 2018
However, a week and a half prior to the mass protests, Trump — in response to sharp criticism of the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy across the media spectrum — signed an executive order ostensibly meant to reunite families who were previously being separated. Of the executive order, Trump said:
It’s about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border.”
The White House maintains that families now remain together as they await immigration proceedings. However, the order, as previously reported by MintPress, actually does even greater damage: it grants “the federal government the ability to lock up entire families for prolonged, indefinite periods of time while not even guaranteeing that they won’t eventually be ripped apart.” That is, it uses the family-separation issue to extend indefinitely the incarceration of whole families, without actually guaranteeing that those families will ultimately be kept together.
In short, the executive order is nothing but a political sleight-of-hand.
Democrat’s hijack immigration narrative despite endorsing similar policies
Saturday’s “Families Belong Together” campaign was a MoveOn.org brainchild — MoveOn being a well-known fundraising vehicle for, and a loyal servant of, the Democratic Party.
As touted by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the organization has played a key role in the recent “resistance” movements against Trump, which often encourage participants to register to vote and to specifically vote Democrat as a means to solve the issue they are protesting about.
In the case of immigration, the “resistance” loyal to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party turned the conversation into a partisan one.
The protests called for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal agency, which has been directly responsible for separating families and housing migrant children in cages, and sometimes even placing children in holding facilities with complete strangers who are adults.
Trump took a moment, while golfing, to respond to the protests and calls to abolish ICE:
To the great and brave men and women of ICE, do not worry or lose your spirit. You are doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe by eradicating the worst criminal elements. So brave! The radical left Dems want you out. Next it will be all police. Zero chance, It will never happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2018
Calls to abolish the agency, as well as Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), have been increasing in recent months. To those concerned with their tactics, operations, and goals, the issue is not merely about the detention of children at the border, but about the entire concept of the agencies.
— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) June 30, 2018
We marched on former ICE Director Thomas Homan’s house today because we are socialists, because we fight for the international working class, which knows no nations, and no borders! #AbolishICE pic.twitter.com/M7CtYX7fGh
— Metro DC DSA (@mdc_dsa) July 1, 2018
Can't stop thinking about this moment during the @CosechaMovement action today: a detained person inside the ICE facility who wrote "Honduras" and "Free me" in bar soap on their window, only for someone to scrub it away soon after. We must keep resisting. We must #AbolishICE. pic.twitter.com/ewNYrkKkov
— Alex Ahmed (@WomensFormula) July 1, 2018
— Metro DC DSA (@mdc_dsa) July 1, 2018
People get scared if we push too far left. We are told we will alienate those in the middle.
There is no middle.
The other side has no problem creating laws and systems of oppression. They’re shameless.
— Meryl Lynn Ranzer (@merylnyc) June 30, 2018
But lost in all the partisan rhetoric is how deportations hit a record high under the Obama administration, topping out at 435,498 in 2013.
However, according to ICE, 2015 saw a change in approach and, in consequence, the lowest deportations total in decades, owing specifically to efforts aimed at prioritizing “convicted criminals and threats to public safety, border security, and national security.”
As recently revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union, there has been “a pattern of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by Customs and Border Protection officials against child immigrants that existed long before President Trump emboldened the agency by unleashing its officers to enforce his draconian immigration policies.”
While ICE and CBP are different entities, the two often work in concert, especially when it comes to the detention of children and families at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Regarding CBP, the ACLU went on to say:
Customs and Border Protection — the Border Patrol’s parent agency — is now the largest law enforcement organization in the United States, with more than 60,000 employees and a fiscal year 2018 budget of $16.4 billion. And while the number of people crossing the border without documents has dropped significantly, Trump has said he wants to hire thousands more Border Patrol agents while deploying the National Guard to the border to bolster its forces. Now the federal government has created a policy of separating immigrant children from their parents, which could dramatically increase the number of minors encountering immigration officials by themselves and create potential for expanded abuses.”
ICE agents propose a spin-off
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sent just last week, 19 agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit have asked that their division spin off from the rest of ICE, owing to the “controversial detention and deportation policies” that have made it too hard for them to investigate “threats to national security, organized crime, narcotics smuggling and human trafficking.”
While it is being reported that the agents are calling for abolition or disbanding of ICE, the letter simply suggests splitting the agency into two — with one focusing on homeland security and the other focusing on deportations. The agents say the change would “improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness.”
While the outcry of concern from both inside and outside of the U.S. government is great and difficult to ignore, clarity and cohesion appear to be lacking when it comes to a suggested solution of immigrant detention problems and the best way to keep families together. It remains to be seen what effect the march, trumpeting the cause of keeping families together or abolishing ICE, or even the letter directly from 19 ICE agents themselves, will have on the current and growing crisis at the border.
Top Photo | Deborah Langerman and Cara Hwang push a cart to a protest of the Trump administration’s approach to illegal border crossings and separation of children from immigrant parents at the Statehouse, June 30, 2018, in Indianapolis. Darron Cummings | AP
Emma Fiala is MPN’s Editorial Assistant and social media guru. She is also a documentary photographer, mom of two, and an independent journalist. Her stories have been featured on MintPress News, the Anti-Media, Media Roots, Zero Hedge, the Mind Unleashed and Steemit. Find her on Twitter.