When President Donald Trump issued an executive order last June reversing his highly-controversial "zero tolerance" policy, which led to thousands of migrant family separations along the U.S. southern border, it seemed like it was gone for good. Well, jokes on me, because, according to new reports, Donald Trump's child separation policy could come back. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) referred questions to the White House, which did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment.
For what it's worth, though, Trump has denied those reports. According to The Hill, he said in an Oval Office meeting on April 9, "We're not looking to do that, no."
However, sources with knowledge of meetings at the White House reportedly told NBC News on April 8 that the president has been pushing to revamp the policy for "months," but with even broader terms. Per CNN, Trump reportedly wants families separated even if they cross into the United States through legal ports of entry or are asylum-seekers. (Previously, only families who crossed the border illegally were separated.)
Both outlets reported that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned on Sunday, April 7, had been pushing back against the president's alleged efforts, citing court orders that prohibited the DHS from reinstating the policy. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on whether the president's push caused friction between him and Nielsen, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Regardless of legal challenges, officials reportedly told NBC News that Kevin McAleenan, who is the head of Customs and Border Patrol and will be taking over as head of the DHS, hasn't ruled out family separations just yet.
This news comes nearly a year after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the "zero tolerance" policy, under which adult migrants entering the U.S. illegally would be prosecuted, which in turn resulted in migrant children being separated from their families. Because children can't go with their parents or guardians into jails and through the adult criminal court system, under the policy, they were treated as unaccompanied minors and put through a different system, leading to children being separated from their families. It was a change from previous policies, under which families with children crossing the border together were generally released due to laws prohibiting children from being held in custody for long periods.
The policy received widespread criticism, which only intensified as heartbreaking images and audio of separated families and reports about those affected by the policy continued to make headlines. In June 2018, Trump signed an executive order that ended the policy, but the chaos it caused in that time remains.
In February, more than six months after the policy officially ended, ABC News reported that the Trump administration was "unsure" of the number of migrant families that had been separated at the border. And the number might not ever be revealed, according to court documents filed on Feb. 1, which stem from a lawsuit objecting the policy. The White House and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for additional comment at the time. ABC News at the time said poor communication and informal tracking systems made it difficult to track where migrant children ended up, whether with their parents, in foster care, or with sponsors.
Bringing back something so out of control seems so wild to me, so hopefully Trump's word is for real. But you never really know with that guy.