On Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Judge Dana Sabraw of the Federal District Court of San Diego issued a preliminary injunction to stop the separation of migrant children from their parents. He also set up a strict timetable for reuniting the families: Children under the age of five must be reunited with their parents within 14 days. Other minor children must be reunited within 30 days- unless a parent is deemed to be unfit or to be a danger to the child.
Trump administration officials were surprised by the injunction and timetable affecting children in 100 sites scattered in 17 states across the country. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services said they were trying to put children in touch with their parents. But they were not planning to release the children while their parents were being detained to face prosecution on charges of trying to enter the United States illegally. Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services told a senate committee the same day that before releasing the children, the government must “vet” them. Other officials said that process could take “weeks”. Jonathan White, a Public Human Services officer said the federal government may request from a parent a birth certificate or use DNA testing, as well as doing a criminal background check. Secretary Azar also said his department was also holding nine thousand children in their shelters who were unaccompanied when they entered illegally.
Judge Sabraw in his order said actions by federal agencies, “had resulted in the casual if not deliberate separation of families that lawfully present at the port of entry, not just those who cross into the country illegally.” He added, “Some parents have been already deported without their children who remain in government facilities within the United States.” The number of children in this situation was not available from officials.
The zero tolerance policy declared by President Trump had been put into effect rapidly by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Pictures of crying children being taken from their parents engulfed the cable news stations. A Time magazine Cover showed a crying tiny two year old girl, who had become famous as her picture went viral, looking up at Donald Trump peering down at her. Against the red background was the title, “Welcome to America”. TV showed a scene in New York City where officials were walking with small children who had been flown late at night from the sourthern border. Governors of states were not informed of migrant children being brought there. Newspaper editorials and Cable TV panels assailed the president for the zero tolerance policy that was tearing families apart and causing “chaos” and “long lasting harm to the children”. Neither George W. Bush, nor Barack Obama had ever separated families with their immigration policies. Public pressure grew until Trump finally relented and ended the separation policy.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat and ranking member on the Judiciary Committee said, “This is a manufactured crisis, plain and simple. Previous presidents have found ways to enforce our immigration laws without separating children from their parents.”
By Saturday, June 28, Americans across the country organized events and marches in every state in the union against the separation of migrant children from their parents. Their slogan was “Reunite!” MSNBC and CNN carried the protests non-stop with interviews of individual families and spotlights on famous entertainers who sang, and political figures who gave inspiring speeches. Before a massive audience in Los Angeles, Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Maxine Waters had the crowd clapping and cheering with their dynamic attacks on the Trump zero based policy separating children from parents. “We are Better Than This!”….. Harris insisted after each example she gave of the lasting harm the policy was doing to the children. “Make sure you shoot straight!” warned Waters who has been insulted often by Trump. She stressed her knowledge of The Constitution in contrast to the president.
In Washington D.C. thousands of protestors marched into Lafayette Square opposite the White House, chanting “Families belong together.” Donald Trump was not at home. He was playing golf at his club in Bedminster New Jersey. Throughout the country, many people held “Abolish ICE signs.” The Immigration and Customs Agency” is a growing target of Americans appalled by the harsh treatment and deportation of Immigrants who have lived in the United States for years. There were huge rallies and marches in border cities like El Paso, Texas and state capitals like Atlanta Georgia. In Oregon, a tent city protest had started at ICE headquarters earlier in the month. A rally there brought thousands. The 90 degree heat across the country did not stop entire families, many with small children from taking part.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat from Washington State said, “ The idea of kids in cages and asylum seekers in prison, and moms being separated from breast feeding children, this is just beyond politics.” On Thursday, she had been arrested with more than 500 other women outside a Senate office building in Washington as part of a Women’s Protest March against Trump’s Immigration policy. In New York Ctiy, a crowd more than a mile long slowly crossed the Brooklyn Bridge carrying signs: “Abolish ICE”, “Reunite families.” One woman said to a reporter, “The most important question to ask is what is the process to reunite these families.”
President Trump is doing his best to move away from the chaos and turmoil he created by his policy to separate children from their parents. His basic tactic is always distraction from any troubling issue at hand. Now, he is emphasizing the search for a Supreme Court nomination since Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired. However, the American people reminded him on Saturday when they marched by the thousands, women, men and children, that his administration must reunite the families he separated. We are waiting impatiently for that to happen. Trump caused it. Now he has to pay attention to finding a solution. FAST!
……………………………………………………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson