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Despite her statements to the contrary, a newly-released April 2018 memo from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) makes clear that the Trump administration was fully aware that family separations would occur as a result of their “zero tolerance” policy.
The memo, obtained by Open the Government and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) through a FOIA request, is the latest evidence that Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Kirstjen Nielsen lied. As Adolfo Flores of BuzzFeed writes, “When the administration was under fire for the family separations [DHS Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen told reporters “This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border.” Yet, the memo she signed states the effect of attempting to prosecute every adult at the border would result in children being separated from their parents.” In fact, the DHS memo, viewable here, states explicitly, “DHS could also permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted.”
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director at America’s Voice:
Kids were separated from Moms and Dads on purpose. She signed off on it in private and denied it in public. She knew. She lied. She needs to resign.
She’s not alone. The memo makes clear that former ICE head Thomas Homan, USCIS Director Francis Cissna, and CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan were each aware of and signed of on the policy. This cruelty was predetermined, understood ahead of time, and did not dissuade them from moving forward.
The new FOIA memo is just the latest reminder why we need to hold the architects and enablers of one of the darkest chapters in modern American history to account for their actions. But this Republican Congress has been more interested in covering for rather than checking executive branch abuses. It’s time to elect a new Congress that will investigate and hold accountable those responsible for traumatizing thousands of kids and parents, and will work to make sure it never happens again.