By: Alan Smith
Credit to USA Today’s Aaron Hegarty for publishing this very comprehensive timeline of the crisis this country is currently facing with regard to the family separation policy for immigrants. Just knowing that these events took place is bone chilling, imagine reading this as a parent whose child was taken… The idea of family separation went public March 7th, 2017. Former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly confirmed that the administration was considering separating families at the border, on the basis that it would “deter more movement along this terribly dangerous network.” April 5th, 2017, Kelly states that parents and children would only be separated “if the child’s life is in danger.” October 2017, separations begin.
A joint complaint was filed with the Department of Homeland Security by immigration advocacy organizations on December 11th, 2017. April 6th, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces a ‘zero tolerance’ policy along the Southern border, directing federal prosecutors to criminally prosecute all adult migrants entering the country illegally. The policy change leads to the separation of families because children cannot be held in a detention facility with their parents. On April 11th, 2018 Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifies to Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee that there is no policy that calls for the separation of families as a deterrence. She states “The standard is to – in every case – is to keep that family together as long as operationally possible… When we separate, we separate because the law tells us to, and that is in the interest of the child.” April 20th, 2018, the first report calling attention to the scale of the separations – New York Times publishes statistics showing more than 700 children have been taken from their parents since October and 100 of those are under the age of 4. May 7th, 2018 – Attorney General Sessions makes clear of the stance Border Patrol and the Justice Department intend to hold – “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 across our border.” Acknowledging of the requirement of government agencies to separate children from adults traveling with them.
The Department of Homeland Security says how many children have been separated during the zero-tolerance initiative for the first time June 15th, 2018 – nearly 2,000 children from April 19th – May 31st. From June 17th, 2018 – June 19th, 2018 public attention to the issue spikes according to Google Trends, and H.S. Secretary Nielsen remains unapologetic, saying “We have to do our job. We will not apologize for doing our job… This administration has a simple message – if you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you.” June 20th, 2018 President Trump signs an executive order designed to keep migrant families together, due to public unrest. Additionally, The Department of Homeland Security reports 2,342 children were separated at the border from 2,206 adults from May 5th – June 9th.