The cruelty never stopped.
But this was a lie, according to a new investigation from ProPublica. Instead of the old "zero tolerance" policy that caused so much controversy, now Trump officials are quietly "using whatever justification they can find, with or without substantiation, to deem immigrant parents unfit or unsafe," ProPublica reports.
One a parent has been so labeled, agents are wasting no time taking their children away.
"If the authorities have even the most specious evidence that a parent was a gang member, or had some kind of blemish on their record, anything they can come up with to say that the separation is for the health and welfare of the child, then they’ll separate them," Neha Desai, a senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law, told ProPublica.
During the summer of 2018, the Trump administration ripped thousands of families apart in a cruel effort to deter immigration. Their unconscionable efforts sparked global outrage and even comparisons to Nazi concentration camps. But rather than stop the practice, the Trump administration decided to engage in shady efforts to continue it.
Over the past few months, lawyers for Catholic Charities have discovered more than a dozen new instances of family separation.
Alarmingly, these discoveries were made by chance. That means we can't be sure just how many families have been newly ripped apart — months after a judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite the families who had already been separated.
And the consequences for these families are heartbreaking.
Julio, a 27-year-old father, told ProPublica that his 4-year-old son, Brayan, was literally yanked screaming from his grasp by border agents.
"I failed him," Julio, a 27 year-old father, said through sobs. "Everything I had done to be a good father was destroyed in an instant."
As required by U.S. law, Julio and Brayan presented themselves to border agents to claim asylum. Julio even had a letter from a lawyer in El Salvador explaining that he and Brayan were fleeing attacks and threats from gangs.
Julio passed a credible fear interview with an asylum officer, including a statement from the officer which "indicated that she had been provided no derogatory information or criminal records that would automatically bar Julio from winning asylum," according to ProPublica.
Yet border patrol agents still ripped Brayan away from Julio because they claim, without providing any evidence, that Julio — who left his home country to flee gang violence — is actually himself affiliated with the violent MS-13 gang.
And the agency refuses to share any of its supposed evidence with Julio's lawyer.
"I'm furious about this. They aren't playing by the rules," Georgia Evangelista, Julio's lawyer, told ProPublica, referring to U.S. immigration authorities. "They're treating him like a criminal so they can justify taking away his son. Where's the proof?"
After agents tore Brayan away, they put him on a plane and sent him to a temporary foster care agency in New York — without informing his future caretakers that this 4-year-old had been separated from his father.
Until ProPublica stumbled upon Brayan's case by chance, Brayan's lawyer didn't even know that the child had been separated.
But as Shareblue reported at the time, this executive order actually left "huge loopholes" for the administration to do exactly what ProPublica has found: Using flimsy excuses to justify separating families.
From tearing families apart to using chemical weapons against toddlers, the Trump administration's cruelty towards immigrants truly knows no bounds.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.