As the nation reels from Trump’s family separation policy, Vox’s Dara Lind cautions that — following Judge Dolly Gee’s Monday ruling — the Trump administration is gearing up to separate families again.
In some cases, Monday night’s ruling says, the government can force parents to make a choice: stay with their children in immigration detention indefinitely, or remain detained by ICE while their children are sent to the custody of Health and Human Services (just as they were under the family-separation policy) and ultimately placed with another adult in the US.
A Department of Justice lawyer said Tuesday that the government interprets the judges as giving parents two options: “remain detained together” for longer than 20 days, or “release the child” and separate the family.
The Trump administration isn’t using that power — at least, not now. It stopped separating families as a policy after President Trump’s June 20 executive order, and it’s not going to try to resume them after Monday night’s judicial ruling.
But the door to resuming family separations is officially open. If the administration refrains from going back there, it will be by its own choice.
…Some advocates are concerned that, as rumors swirl of parents being forced to sign forms they didn’t understand, some parents will unwittingly waive their Flores rights and allow their families to be kept indefinitely even if the government wouldn’t be separating them.
But it would be easier for the government to press parents to accept indefinite detention if it were using separation as the bad-cop alternative.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The Trump administration is determined to do whatever it can to be ‘tough’ — meaning, they are going to continue being cruel — and to keep this issue in the headlines — meaning, they are going to continue being cynical. Just yesterday, Trump and his officials missed the family reunification deadline by a mile. Now, the administration is gearing up to give parents a ‘Sophie’s choice’ — stay together in jail or stay in jail without their children. We must keep the pressure on the administration —and the GOP —to keep families together, to give them the opportunity to prepare their asylum cases in freedom, and to restart effective programs that ensure compliance with court appointments and decisions.”
Read Lind’s full piece online here.