Things That Matter

President Trump’s Executive Order To End Family Separations Could Mean Indefinite Detention For Migrant Children

President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end family separations at the border — an immigration policy that was enacted by the Trump administration earlier this year. More than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since the policy went into effect in April.

“We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” Trump told the press while signing the executive order, according to The New York Times. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”

However, critics were quick to remind everyone that he is responsible for separating families.

“It is outrageous that the president is pushing the criminal detention of innocent children as a solution to his own evil act,” Kevin Appleby, a senior director at the Center for Migration Studies, told The New York Times. “The best solution would be releasing families to sponsors or placing them in community-based alternatives to detention programs, which are less expensive and much more humane.”

Families who cross the border illegally will not be separated. Children will now be detained indefinitely in detention facilities — described by many as prisons — with their parents while their cases go to court. This is causing its own legal challenge because of a court decision in Flores v. Reno Settlement Agreement, or the Flores Settlement, in 1997.

The Flores Settlement states that children cannot be detained for more than 20 days. They are also to be held in the least restrictive detention possible. According to Vox, the Trump administration is aware of the court decision and have been working to overturn it so children can be held indefinitely.

President Trump has tried distancing himself from his immigration policy by blaming Democrats and previous presidents for the separation. However, the key difference is that the Trump administration turned crossing the border illegally from a civil matter to a criminal matter. This difference is what forced immigration officers to separate all families crossing the border during the last six weeks.

The executive order does not address reuniting children who were previously separated from their parents. Immigration officials have admitted that there is no process in place to reunite the families that have been separated.

“I think the intention was to change things (but) I think there is a lot of confusion. Frankly, I think the way the order is drafted is not executable,” John Sandweg, a former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told CNN. “I was really shocked to see they are not going to unite the kids. I thought the whole point of this was to reunite the kids.”


READ: The Trump Administration Announced A New Policy To Separate Children From Parents Who Cross The US-Mexico Border

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As Trump Defends Family Separations, Biden Calls It “Criminal” And Outlines His Plan For Compassionate Border Policy

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As Trump Defends Family Separations, Biden Calls It “Criminal” And Outlines His Plan For Compassionate Border Policy

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Politicians understand that courting a broad and diverse coalition of voters is the key to winning the election. That is what paved the way for the 2008 victory of President Barack Obama as well as the House and Senate during the same election. So far, early voting numbers for young voters are way higher than this point in the 2016 election.

Likewise, Latinos are a large electoral voting bloc in the 2020 elections. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbers the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. This is a major step into democracy for the Latino community.

And with large numbers of Americans also supporting common sense immigration reform with a focus on compassionate policies, it makes sense that the Biden campaign is working hard to show the contrast between his policies and those of the Trump Administration.

During the last presidential debate before the election, President Trump was given the chance to address his cruel family separation policy.

Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

At the final debate, Trump was asked about the 545 children who still haven’t been reunited with their families after being separated from them because of his administration’s immigration policy.

The Trump Administration previously pursued a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy as a deterrent for immigrants by prosecuting adults who crossed into the country without authorization, resulting in systematic family separation. 

It was one of the few times Trump has been directly confronted about the worst human rights abuse of his four years in office.

At first, Trump blamed smugglers for bringing children over the border, not admitting that these children had come with their parents and been taken from them on orders from his administration. When the president finally acknowledged the reality, though, he gave us a window into what he actually thinks about family separation: In his view, it wasn’t that bad.

In his response, Trump defended those policies and failed to detail how we planned to help bring those families back together. In that same thought, he also claimed that the “they [the kids] are so well taken care of.”

“Yes, we’re working on it, we’re trying very hard,” Trump said when pressed on how his Administration was working to reunite the families.

Several recent stories about the conditions these kids are in contradict Trump’s talking points.

Credit: John Moore / Getty Images

To Trump’s point about the children being “so well taken care of,” though, his administration has also argued in court that it doesn’t need to provide detained children with a “toothbrush,” “towels,” “dry clothing,” “soap,” or “sleep.” This was while his Border Patrol was denying children those things and also while it was refusing donations of those things to give to the detained children.

But still, Trump thinks that the children who may never see their parents again “are so well taken care of.” He did not mention the at least six children who have died in CBP custody in less than a year.

As Biden fact checked Trump on the 545 children who still haven’t been reunited with their parents, Biden called the policy ‘criminal.’

Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

After Trump’s non-answer to how he plans to reunite these broken families, Joe Biden, clearly impassioned, went to work fact-checking Trump. In direct response to the administration’s inhumane and cruel policies, Biden said the policy “makes us a laughingstock and it violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

As the two sparred over the policy, Biden went on to call it ‘criminal.’

“What happened? Their kids were ripped from their arms and separated and now they cannot find over 500 sets of those parents and those kids are alone. Nowhere to go, nowhere to go. It’s criminal,” Joe Biden went on to say.

During the final presidential debate, Joe Biden outlined his vision to fix our broken immigration system – he outlined how he will lead with compassion and end the Trump Administration’s cruel policies that tear children away from their mothers.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The immigration portion of the debate spanned several subjects. Asked about the Obama Administration’s immigration policy—which included record deportations— Biden sought to create rare distance between himself and the President he served.

When asked about Obama’s immigration agenda, Biden admitted “We made a mistake. He added “It took too long to get it right. Took too long to get it right. I’ll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States.”

One important policy Biden plans to follow through on is protecting DREAMers. An overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting Dreamers and Biden echoed these sentiments. During the debate he committed to creating a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented people. He specifically nodded to DREAMers, whose status the Trump Administration has challenged.

It’s also worth noting that one of the reasons these policies weren’t able to be implement during the Obama-Biden administration was the united Republican obstructionism. For example, the Republican-led House refused to take up the bipartisan immigration deal passed by the Senate in 2013.

Even when he wasn’t directly addressing the issue of family separations, Joe Biden kept families in the discussion.

During the debate, Joe Biden did his best to avoid getting into arguments and instead tried to keep the focus on the issues and they impact the American family – and families longing for a chance at the American Dream.

From Covid to family separations, Biden touched on all of the issues that keep American families up at night. And given the feedback from several post-debate polls, Americans support many of the progressive policies that Biden mentioned during the debate.

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With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

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With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

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