On June 20, 2018, the people were heard (haza!) and President Trump signed an executive order (“EO”) temporarily ending the immigration procedure of separating children from their parents. Section 1 of the EO states that the Trump Administration’s policy is “to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” Section 3, titled Temporary Detention Policy for Families Entering this Country Illegally, states that during the pendency of status determinations, “The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families . . . .” Wonderful, children will not be separated from their parents upon apprehension. Not wonderful, they are just moving from cages to criminal custody.
Since 1997, a bedrock legal limit set by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Flores v. Session, is that children (those under 18 years of age) are not permitted to be criminally detained for more than twenty (20) days. Hence the EO section’s title of “Temporary Detention Policy . . .” According to Flores, children must be separated from their parents on the 21st day and sent back in DHHS custody – which is the root of our current need for change. But, President Trump anticipated this criticism, and included subsection (e) to the Temporary Detention Policy.
In this section 3(e), Trump orders Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “promptly file a request with the [Flores court] in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.” Children will thus follow their parents in the detention process. If granted, does this mean that the sponsorship system will no longer apply because the children are no longer in DHHS custody? Are children being sent to jail with their parents? Are children being criminally prosecuted as adults? How are we supposed to analyze quickly enough to produce solutions protecting their human rights?
A wise scholar (and doctor) once said that when dealing with the federal government, “strive to give six and take four.” Adopting her wisdom, we can consider Trump’s June 20th executive order in the “four” column. Positive light must shine on the recent humanitarian success before diving into the darkness. The voice of Americans around the country effectively ended the procedure of separating children from their parents! We are Trump’s kryptonite; democracy at its finest.
Now, the policy ended because President Trump issued an executive order. An EO is essentially an order from a boss to its employees. It provides direction to civil servants under the Executive Branch. Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer of New York preferred an executive order over legislation due to its efficiency and quick implementation measures.
In line with Schumer, President Trump expressly refused to sign any Senate or House bill considering a termination of the separation policy. For weeks Trump stated that he was forced to separate families due to laws enacted by Democrats. If that was so, how are the people supposed to rationalize the fact that today Trump signed an executive order ending the policy he previously said he was forced to enforce? Again, it is crucial to identify intent to prepare for what follows – and we know it is generally not pleasant.
Enacting legislation is an act of Congress, the Legislative Branch. Brilliantly, our Legislative Branch’s power is separate from the Executive Branch, which is where Trump and immigration policy call home. (Immigrant courts are part of the Justice Department and also considered part of the Executive branch.)However, the power of media informed the world of the vile inhumanity implemented on families and children due to the Trump Administration.
Trump knew something needed to happen, and to Trump, an executive order is superior to legislation because it is within his executive power. Although he may not have known that “Nambia” is not a country, we can strongly assume Trump is aware of where and how he can use his executive authority. Now, the current immigration policy via the EO was created by the President, which can thus be changed by the President, or terminated by the President. Allowing Congress to enact immigration legislation takes power away from the Executive. Trump wants to consolidate power, not separate it.
Remember what the President said about murderous dictator Kim Jung Un: “He Speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.” Trump is greatly mistaken. We are not “his people,” he is “our president.” He works for us. And the people will rise, but they will be ordering Trump’s attention.
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – Non-profit with a mission to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person.
- Kids In Need of Defense: Provide legal representation to children in the immigration process.
- FamiliesBelongTogether – A Grassroots organization demanding an end to the harmful family separation policies.
This Brief was developed by USRESIST NEWS Analyst J.R. Phillip: Contact Justin@usresistnews.org
Photo By: Daniel Apodaca