Donald Trump has been very proud of the fact that his administration has been kidnapping immigrant children from their parents and locking them inside cages. He thinks this makes him look tough and strong, and it endears him to his white nationalist base of supporters.
With all the other distractions he has created, many Americans have forgotten about the horrors of his child internment camps. So last night the CBS show 60 Minutes did a report about the Trump administration’s separation of thousands of children from their parents at the southern border due to their “zero tolerance” policy.
Needless to say, Donald Trump was not happy with what the CBS show had to say, and like any spoiled brat, he had to throw a tantrum about it.
So after the 60 Minutes expose was over, Trump immediately went berserk on Twitter, firing back in his typical unhinged and dishonest way. He wrote:
“60 Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration. In fact a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O years. Obama separated children from parents, as did Bush etc., because that is the policy and law. I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama seperation is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!”
.@60Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration. In fact a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O years. Obama separated….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2018
….children from parents, as did Bush etc., because that is the policy and law. I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama seperation is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2018
The most important thing to understand about Trump’s tweets is that what he says is totally false.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that his administration’s policy is the same as former President Obama’s, but everybody knows that is not true. The Obama administration did separate some children from their parents at the border, but not as part of a “zero tolerance” policy. It happened very rarely and under completely different circumstances.
The “60 Minutes” report concluded that the Trump administration separated migrant children from their parents at the border for more time than most people realized, pursuing a “pilot” family separation program in 2017.
With respect to the photo Trump referred to, Cecilia Muñoz, a former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told NPR that it was taken at a time when there was “an enormous spike … in the number of kids crossing alone into the United States.”
“Kids ended up piling up in Border Patrol lock-ups, which are no places for children,” Muñoz explained in May.
Trump said that Obama, as well as former President George W. Bush, separated children from their parents because “that is the policy and law.” But it was not a policy and not a law under any of Trump’s predecessors.
The 60 Minutes report included an interview with Scott Shuchart, a former senior adviser to the officer for civil rights and civil liberties at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Shuchart said that the “zero tolerance” policy was pushed through from the top without insight from DHS officials.
“We were being asked as a department to do something that violated the civil rights and civil liberties of persons,” Shuchart, who left the agency around the same time, said. “And my office was being frozen out of that process. There wasn’t a job responsibly for me to do.”
The “zero tolerance” policy resulted in over 2,000 children being taken away from their parents or guardians over an 11 week period last spring. The policy led to an international outcry, with activists and lawmakers of both parties shocked and outraged over pictures of children being detained in filthy and inhumane conditions.
Trump signed an executive order ending the policy in May and federal judges mandated that children be returned to their parents. But many children have still not been returned to their parents, as the law requires.
60 Minutes obtained a copy of a government memo which showed that the goal of the family separation policy was to “deter” more immigrants from coming into the country. However, there is no evidence that the policy actually deterred immigration or brought down the number of people seeking to enter the U.S.
Trump’s tweets yesterday came shortly after his border patrol agents fired tear gas at hundreds of Central American migrants who were seeking to breach the border between Tijuana and California.
Trump has been stoking fears about the caravan of migrants for weeks, calling them an “invasion” and even dispatching a military force to the border. Reports indicate they are mostly Central American migrants seeking asylum as they escape poverty and violence in their home countries, and Trump is breaking the law by denying them asylum in the United States.
Trump has broken many laws as president, and he has also violated standards of decency and honor that presidents are expected to follow. We need a president who protects America from real threats, and does not fire tear gas at women and children seeking asylum. It is time for Donald Trump to realize that he is not up to the task of being president, and he should be removed from office as soon as possible.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.