Trump has signed an executive order that will stop undocumented immigrant children being taken away from their families at the Mexican border. This comes after global outrage towards the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy,” that saw every undocumented immigrant crossing the border put into federal jail, leaving those too young to be incarcerated separated from their families. The children then remain in the care of Department of Health and Human Services, with the quality of the facilities rumoured to vary from spacious 10 bedroom houses to cages. According to the Guardian, over 2,300 children have been separated from their parents at the border since the “zero-tolerance policy” was announced in May. According to Vox, there was never a process in place to reunite the parents with their children, creating a horrible uncertainty for these families. The Trump administration has provided several different explanations on why they did this, such as taking the children to deter more undocumented immigrants, and blaming the restrictions of immigration laws made by the Democrats.
“We are going to keep families together but we have to still maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things we don’t stand for,” Trump said at the signing. “We want the heart, but we also want strong borders and we want no crime.” He continued by telling the public they have double standards for wanting stricter borders but judging his administration’s methods. CNN reports that despite the move forward there is still room for concern, such as how “the executive order does not address the uniting of families already separated,” making it “too early to tell” what their fate will be.
Countries besides the U.S., including Italy and Australia, are also using crime, the economy and population issues as reasons to legitimize stricter borders. However, these other countries never used these excuses to justify separating families. America’s focus now needs to be on bettering the situation they have created beyond the executive order, by figuring out the most efficient way to reunite the families they tore apart, especially since there was no process for this in the first place. From here they may want to look at countries who are making positive steps in managing refugees such as Uganda, who decreased the amount of refugees needing aid by having integration programmes, so they can enter the workforce as fast as possible. This contrasts the growing amount of U.S. undocumented immigrants who are being detained while waiting for a free court date, while the backlog grows under the “zero-tolerance policy.” The importance of educating refugee children is also a positive approach discussed by the Economist, so no matter whether they remain in their new country or return, they are equipped with the right tools to be participating citizens. The McAllen detention centre Melania Trump visited Thursday, 21 June claimed to do this, however, this was while the children were separated from their families. It is unknown whether this education will continue when the children are reunited with their incarcerated parents under the executive order.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, the U.S. has been the most popular place for people to immigrate to since the 1960s, being home to one fifth of the world’s total amount of migrants. Having stricter immigration policy was at the forefront of Trump’s 2016 election campaign, with “we will build a wall” being the defining tagline that promised to solve drug and undocumented immigration issues. The wall is still at the prototyping stage, and according to Fortune, is budgeted for in Trump’s 2019 spending package.
The executive order’s effectiveness will be illustrated by what happens next. For now, the public will have to wait to see if Trump puts the empathy he spoke of at the signing into practice.
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