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article imageOp-Ed: Fact Check — Did Democrats pass a law to separate families?

By Karen Graham     Jun 19, 2018 in Politics
Washington - Thousands of children separated from their families at the U.S. southern border are being held in government-run facilities reminiscent of large animal cages. The Trump administration insists the law is on the books - but is it?
Thousands of parents and children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, have been caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in recent years. Most all of them share stories of fleeing drug cartels, extreme poverty, and gang violence.
And for years, as illegal immigration numbers saw seasonal spikes, presidents from both parties agonized over the best way to stop unauthorized border crossings.
But let's look at President Donald Trump. Yes, he campaigned on keeping the "gangs and rapists" from crossing our southern border, and this certainly appealed to his Republican base,
Immigrants and their supporters demonstrated in Los Angeles and other cities following President Don...
Immigrants and their supporters demonstrated in Los Angeles and other cities following President Donald Trump's move to rescind the amnesty protecting 800,000 young immigrants from deportation
Trump pushed for a great 2,000-mile-long border wall along our border with Mexico, asserting that Mexico would pay for it. But things came to a head when the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or "Dreamers Act" was due to expire, and the cost of the "great wall" was revealed as being between $12 billion and $25 billion or more.
Trump's nuclear option goes into effect
One of the first things Trump did on taking office was to begin planning actions to discourage immigrants from unlawfully entering the United States. John F. Kelly, then the homeland security secretary, said in March 2017 that children would be separated from their families as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
And actually, Trump at that time, thought Kelly's idea was too aggressive, even though he was pushing a strong immigration policy. However, Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser, liked the idea and never gave up on getting it into practice.
President Donald Trump said the United States will not become a "migrant camp " but he fac...
President Donald Trump said the United States will not become a "migrant camp," but he faces a severe backlash for his administration's anti-immigration policy that results in the separation of families at the border
Brendan Smialowski, AFP
But let's come up to the present time - With Attorney General Jeff Sessions deriding longtime U.S. immigration practices as "catch and release." Catch and release is the unofficial name of a protocol that has been followed by immigration enforcement agencies
Fact: This protocol came about during the George W. Bush administration at a time when U.S. immigration officials simply did not have sufficient facilities (and the funding to operate them) to detain all the people they discovered in apparent violation of immigration laws and process them for deportation.
Fact: Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the amount of time a detainee could be held in detention to six months in a June 2001 decision in the Zadvydas v. Davis decision.
In this file photo taken on December 11  2008 US President George W. Bush (R) shakes hands with his ...
In this file photo taken on December 11, 2008 US President George W. Bush (R) shakes hands with his father, former President George H.W. Bush (L) before his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush (C), after delivering the commencement address during the Texas A&M University graduation ceremony
Saul LOEB, AFP/File
And yes, the "catch and release" protocol was being used during the Obama administration. And let's just say a multitude of bills have been introduced in Congress, all attempting to do away with the Zadvydas v. Davis decision. None of them have passed. But both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for not addressing our flawed border security laws.
Government's "zero tolerance" policy
That is what Jeff Sessions called the new government policy in April this year. And keep in mind the big switch came about after Trump policies on keeping terrorists out of the U.S. by banning travel from Muslim-majority countries sort of fell by the wayside.
Fact: According to the zero-tolerance policy outlined by Sessions, those entering the US irregularly would be criminally prosecuted, a change to a long-standing policy of charging most of those crossing for the first time with a misdemeanor offense. Any minors accompanying them are to be taken away.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the tough US policy to separate illegal immigrant families is...
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the tough US policy to separate illegal immigrant families is aimed at halting "lawlessness" at the border
While not calling this policy a law promulgated by Democrats, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the new policy makes separations inevitable. She also said that children will only be separated in narrow circumstances, including if the adult has broken the law.
The problem with that statement is that all illegal border crossers are now considered criminals, a big change in immigration policy. So now we have nearly 2,000 children, including little babies, in holding pens.
Facts versus government lies
Trump continues to pass on FALSE facts when talking about his immigration policy, blaming Democrats and citing a "horrible law" that separates families. But no law mandates that parents must be separated from their children at the border.
While perusing my Facebook page last night, I came across a post from a close relative that blatantly said that a law enacted during the Bill Clinton administration is behind the separation of children from their parents today. I can truthfully say that a little fact-checking goes a long way in weeding out lies.
US President Donald Trump has said he wants family separations to end  but has refused to take respo...
US President Donald Trump has said he wants family separations to end, but has refused to take responsibility for them -- instead accusing opposition Democrats blocking legislation on the broader issue of illegal immigration
For example, The Migration Policy Institute has a webpage that shows a timeline of all major immigration laws in the United States, dating from the very first one in 1790 to the present.
Fact: There is no federal law that stipulates that children and parents be separated at the border, no matter how families entered the United States. The separation of children from their parents is directly attributable to a change in enforcement policy repeatedly announced by Sessions in April and May 2018, under which adults (with or without children) are criminally prosecuted for attempting to enter the United States.
Fact: Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not make a statement saying “law to separate children.” However, he did make a series of remarks in early April 2018 about a new border initiative involving the separation of children from parents at border crossings:
The factual statements include: "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." He also said: "We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to enter the border illegally. We urge them not to do so."
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This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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