Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) condemned the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy following a bombshell report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) confirming that the administration knew the policy would result in family separations.
“In 2018, the Trump administration’s heinous zero tolerance policy that ripped children out of their parents’ arms rightfully sparked national outrage from the American people. Now, two and a half years after the federal investigation into the Department of Justices’ implementation of the policy began, we finally have more answers about how this diabolical plan came to be,” Merkley said in a statement.
He continued: “It is crystal clear that Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, Chad Wolf, Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior Trump administration officials were not only fully aware that their policy would have traumatizing impacts on families, but also that their intention was to inflict that trauma as a means to deter people from coming to America in search of a better life. Further, it’s now confirmed that they committed perjury by lying to Congress about their intentions and actions in order to avoid accountability for their monstrous initiative.”
The policy, which allowed migrant children to be separated from their parents, was implemented by Jeff Sessions, the former Attorney General.
President Donald Trump had previously admitted that the policy was implemented to get Democrats to cave to his demands, particularly tougher border security and the construction of a wall along the nation’s southern border.
The policy was short-lived. The tipping point appeared to be an Associated Press report confirming that the Trump administration would be operating at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas for migrant babies and toddlers. Condemnation was swift.
Merkley exposed the policy when authorities attempted to block him from investigating a child detention center in Brownsville, Texas. He has served as a strong advocate for family reunification efforts since.
“The intentional infliction of harm on innocent children is unforgivable and has no place on our soil. The architects should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for any crimes connected with both the atrocities and the cover-up,” his statement concludes. “America is at its strongest when we embrace our historic role as a beacon of hope for persecuted people from around the world. I am determined to work with the Biden administration to ensure that we turn that vision into a reality, and to hold the perpetrators of the Trump administration’s cruelty fully accountable.”