Trump Administration Family Separation Policy: A Neutral View on Civilian and Government Responses
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
(Edited by Daibik Chakraborty)
The policies have received condemnation for excessive cruelty, ineffectiveness, the slow process of reunification, its violation of core human rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (a convention in which the United States is one of two non-signatories), and its traumatic long-term effects on the children being detained. It has also been compared by former First Lady Laura Bush among others to the Japanese internment camps used in World War 2.
The United Nations Human Rights Office has publicly decried the policy, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, French Politician Marine Le Pen, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Mexican government for its excessive cruelty and ineffectiveness.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association have also all condemned the policies for its negative long term effects on children being separated for extended periods of time from their families in unfamiliar locations. An open letter to President Trump has been written about the harms of the policies and can be found here:
Dr. Irwin Redlener, a professor at Columbia University and a co founder of the Children’s Health Fund, has called the policies government sponsored child abuse.
Multiple civil rights and humanitarian groups have shown opposition to the policies, including the ACLU, the Anti Defamation League, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the League of Women Voters of the United States, the International Rescue Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the National Immigration Law Center, among others. A letter was written to President Trump urging the end of the policies.
Many Democratic senators and politicians have opposed the policies in question. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the Keep Families Together Act in response to the policies, which only allows the separation of children from their parents under very specific conditions. The act was introduced on June 7, 2018, and was signed by all 49 Democratic Senators by June 18, 2018. Many of the Republican senators have denounced families being separated as well. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, stated that “all of the members of the Republican Conference support a plan that keeps families together”. Nine governors have announced they would pull National Guard Deployments from the borders in protest to the policies.
In a Quinnipiac University Survey, 66% of respondents opposed a policy that led to families being separated, while 27% were in support. While 91% of Democrats and 68% of Independents have opposed, only 35% of Republicans opposed while 55% were in support. Other surveys such as the Ipsos poll found similar results. Many on social media have decried the policy for its cruelty, and the detainment facilities were put on Wikipedia’s list of concentration camps for a period of time, which has since been debated about.
President Trump as well as supporters of the policy believe that the policies are fair to punish those in question, as they break the law by illegally crossing the border. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Senator Chuck Grassley, and House Speaker Paul Ryan point to the 1997 Flores Settlement which states that unaccompanied minors be released to their parents/relatives or government agency appointed guardians.