Trump's executive order on family separation is a lie


It doesn't keep families from being separated — and if Trump has his way, he'll be able to keep kids in cages for as long as he wants.

After weeks of mounting public backlash over the family separation crisis he created, Trump announced on Wednesday that he was signing a new executive order to "keep families together."

But like most of what Trump says and does, this executive order is a lie.

It doesn't keep families from being separated. It does nothing to reunite the thousands of parents and children who have already been separated. And if Trump has his way, he'll be able to keep kids in cages for as long as he wants.

To begin with, the signing of the executive order itself was nothing more than a cynical photo op meant to position Trump as the savior of the children his own administration forcibly separated from their parents and threw into cages.

Trump didn't need to sign anything. He could have ended family separation with a phone call — but he didn't, because ending family separation was not and is not his goal.

Instead of keeping families together and protecting children, Trump's executive order actually seeks to overturn legal protections that prohibit the prolonged detention of children.

Since a 1997 case known as the "Flores settlement," courts have ruled that it is unlawful for immigration authorities to detain children for longer than 20 days.

Trump's new executive order seeks permission from the courts to detain immigrant families together — with no limit on how long children can be kept in detention facilities, and with no regard for child welfare.

In other words, Trump's idea of ending family separation is not to stop detaining children, but instead to detain children and parents together indefinitely.

But even worse, there is no guarantee that the new order will stop children from being separated from their parents.

The only sure way to stop family separations is to end Trump's "zero tolerance" policy of criminally prosecuting every unauthorized border crosser in federal court. Under this policy, parents have to go to federal jail, where children aren't allowed to be held. So children have to be sent somewhere else while their parents wait in jail for their case to be heard.

But Trump's executive order does nothing to end the "zero tolerance" policy. And the order has huge loopholes that will continue to allow kids to be separated from their parents.

Despite Trump's claim on Wednesday that the order he signed will "keep families together," the actual policy only promises to try to keep families together "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources" — wording that leaves plenty of room for the Trump administration to keep tearing families apart.

"Plain and simple: the Trump administration’s Executive Order does not end family separation," Kerri Talbot, legislative director at The Immigration Hub, said in a statement.

She added that the executive order is nothing more than "a restatement of the current policy."

What's more, the administration freely admits that the executive order does nothing at all for the thousands of children who have already been forcibly separated from their parents.

According to CBS News White House reporter Jacqueline Alemany, an administration official told reporters Wednesday evening "that there will NOT be special efforts made to reunite children who have already been separated from their families."

While Trump is not honest enough to admit it, the brutal reality is that some of these children are permanently separated from their families and will never be reunited with their parents.

If Trump actually cared about "keeping families together," the least he could do is try to reunite the families that his administration tore apart. But he doesn't, and he isn't.

In fact, his administration never had plans for reunification in place — and when asked, the Department of Health and Human Services could not provide a single example of a child being reunited with a parent under Trump's "zero tolerance" policy.

That same "zero tolerance" policy — the one that created this problem in the first place — remains untouched.

The only thing Trump's executive order clearly specifies is that he plans to continue detaining families — only now, his administration wants permission to keep children detained for a longer period of time than existing law allows.

"The executive order President Trump just signed is no solution," Michelle Brane, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said in a statement. "It solves nothing and leaves the most vulnerable open to this horrific policy. This simply trades one source of childhood trauma for another."

Let's be clear: This is not a good policy replacing a bad one, nor is it a humane solution to the current inhumane situation.

This is a craven political ploy designed to take the heat off Trump while doing absolutely nothing to solve the humanitarian crisis that the Trump administration created itself with its own "zero tolerance" prosecution policy.

Perhaps the only lie bigger than the executive order itself is Trump's claim that he signed it because he cares about keeping families together.