ProPublica: Families are Still Being Separated at the Southern Border

According to reporting from ProPublica, United States immigration enforcement agencies are still separating some migrant families at our country’s southern border. While the Trump Administration’s immoral and poorly planned ‘zero tolerance’ policy has been reversed, dozens of children have reportedly been separated from their parents. It is difficult to get an official number because the government is not being transparent.

Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) admit that some family separations are still occurring. Though, they contend that the splitting of these families is being done to protect the health safety of migrant children. However, the reporting from ProPublica seriously undermines this argument.

Immigration Officers Claim to Be Protecting Children; The Public Should Be Skeptical

ProPublica’s reporting begins with a harrowing, heartbreaking story from a Salvadoran father whose four-year-old son was taken from his arms by border patrol officers in South Texas. Propublica reports that this separation occurred around October of 2018 — several months after the zero tolerance policy that initiated a wave of family separations was ended.

The Salvadoran father — whose full name has been kept confidential by ProPublica — states that he and his son were fleeing drug cartel and gang violence in their home country. The violence is so bad in El Salvador that it has been named the deadliest country outside of an active war zone. This father was trying to get his young child to a safe place.

ProPublica tracked down the four-year-old. As it turns out, U.S. immigration officials claim that they took him because his father was an “MS-13 member”. However, no evidence was provided to back up this assertion. This is especially notable because MS-13 has been turned into a boogeyman by President Trump. The inevitable result of this is that some migrants who are fleeing gang violence will be stereotyped as dangerous based on nothing more than their ethnic background and their country of origin. Racism is a huge problem. Vague assertions of gang affiliation or wrongdoing — with no evidence provided — cannot be sufficient to support child separation.  

Other Family Separations are Occurring; Sometimes for Trivial Reasons

ProPublica also found other cases that cast serious doubt on the U.S. government’s official position that they are only separating migrant families for the safety of the children. In one case, DHS allegedly refused to reunite a father with his six-year-old child simply because the father has a ten-year-old DUI warrant in the state of Florida. Drunk driving is obviously dangerous and no one should get behind the wheel after drinking; but it does not justify child separation.

It gets worse: ProPublica reports that the ACLU alleges that it knows of at least eight active cases in which the Trump Administration separated families when the parent’s only offense was ‘unauthorized re-entry into the United States’. This cannot be the basis for family separation or denial of reunification.

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