Immigration Law

A National Shame: The Trump Administration’s Separation and Detention of Migrant Families - Report

Adam Isacson, Maureen Meyer and Adeline Hite, Aug. 28, 2018 - "The zero tolerance policy’s most visible outcome was the mass separation of asylum-seeking parents and children. The Trump administration’s ham-fisted effort to implement the policy affected over 2,575 families in about 50 days. The nation was convulsed by images of tearful children, the chain-link cages used to hold them at Border Patrol’s temporary processing center in Texas, tent cities, pediatricians reporting on the conditions in “tender age” detention centers for toddlers, as well as a leaked recording of young children crying inconsolably for their parents.

Family separations at the border have stopped for now, but may be replaced by something just as severe: long-term incarceration of families awaiting adjudication of their asylum claims. Meanwhile, effective, cheaper alternatives exist and have worked in the past yet the Trump administration has curtailed their use.

WOLA’s third and final report in this border series will discuss U.S. authorities’ severe disregard for human rights, and for migrants’ humanity and dignity, before, during, and in the chaotic aftermath of the 50 days during which family separation was official policy. Detailed media reporting and research along the border, including our own during a June visit to Arizona, made visible the callousness, cruelty, and incompetence with which the administration separated thousands of children from their parents. We witnessed a clear and indelible departure from long-held U.S. values. But even as we seek to draw lessons and avoid repetition, the path to reunification for hundreds of families remains unclear. While U.S. authorities are no longer separating families at the border as a policy, this report outlines the ramifications of mass family detention in place of family separation."