It's still happening. In the nine months since President Donald Trump officially ended his unconscionable policy of separating migrant children from their families at the southern border, more than 200 more kids have been taken, according to court documents.
The new separations, unlike the thousands of earlier ones, are technically based on alleged criminal activity by the parents or danger to the children. But details of some of those cases indicate the administration is still doing what the courts, Congress and whole world has condemned: yanking kids from their parents to deter other undocumented immigrants from coming to the U.S.
The original controversy stemmed from the administration's "zero tolerance" policy of holding all adult migrants pending deportation rather than releasing them with a court date — which meant taking their children into custody as well.
The government forcibly pulled thousands of those children from their parents, holding them separately or handing them over to foster families. The administration admitted in September that it lost track of almost 1,500 of those children after taking them.
There's a persistent but false narrative among Trump's defenders that former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both enforced similar family separation policies. They did not. During both administrations, family separations did occur, but they were rare and happened only for reasons like serious crimes committed by the parents or indications existed that the children were in danger.
Under bipartisan pressure and criticism even from his own family, Trump ended his zero tolerance policy by executive order on June 20, technically returning to the previous policy of separating families only in extreme circumstances.
Yet since then, according to data recently provided to a federal court, 245 children have been removed from their families and put in shelters or foster care. There are disturbing indications that many of those separations weren't justified by the circumstances.
Reasons given for separations, a New York Times review found, have included old citations for driving under the influence, 20-year-old nonviolent criminal convictions or vague claims of gang affiliation. In one case, a parent had been convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana. In another, siblings ages 15, 8 and 5 were separated from their mother in Arizona and sent to foster care in New York because the mother had been deported from the U.S. a decade earlier.
It isn't hard to see what's going on here. Border officials, no doubt encouraged by Trump's frequent outbursts against immigrants, are still actively trying to separate children from their families, using any excuse they can.
The administration's policies toward migrant children will go down in history as one of America's most shameful episodes. If members of Congress — including congressional Republicans — don't demand answers and take action to stop these continued family separations, they'll deserve the same infamy.
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