In a piece for the Washington Post, David Nakamura highlights the inefficacy of Trump’s cruel family separation policies. New data released yesterday bolster a recent report by the Center of American Progress showing that “neither family detention nor family separation policies have deterred families from coming to the United States in the past.”
The article is excerpted below and is available in full here.
President Trump, who for three years has vowed to build a massive security wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, is running into his own wall on illegal immigration, which has continued to surge in recent months despite family separations and other hard-edge policies aimed at curbing the flow.
Nearly 19 months into his presidency — and three months ahead of pivotal midterm elections — the envisioned $25 billion border wall remains unfunded by lawmakers. Deportations are lagging behind peak rates under President Barack Obama, while illegal border crossings, which plummeted early in Trump’s tenure, have spiked.
And government data released Wednesday showed that the number of migrant families taken into custody along the southern border remained nearly unchanged from June to July — an indication that the Trump administration’s move to separate thousands of parents and children did little to deter others from attempting the journey.
Trump’s tenure has been marked by efforts to paint many of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants as criminals and public safety threats and to send a strong message to dissuade foreigners from entering the country illegally.
Administration officials said the policies need time to ripen and emphasized they are still developing new tactics, including increased workplace raids. But critics said the past 19 months have exposed the limits of Trump’s strategy of trying to make up for finite federal resources by creating a climate of fear that persuades immigrants to stay away or leave the country voluntarily.
“The fact that people are coming in higher numbers shows his immigration strategy isn’t working,” said Simon Rosenberg, executive director of NDN, a liberal think tank. “We do not see any obvious manifestation of self-deportation happening here.”
Trump has continued to prime his base with tough rhetoric. Last week, he threatened to shut down the government in the fall to secure wall funding, even as Republican leaders in Congress warned it would hurt GOP candidates.
Some suggested Trump’s recent actions reflect an increasingly desperate president lashing out over the failures on his signature issue — and predict he could become more willing to take extreme measures to demonstrate progress.
John Sandweg, who served as acting ICE director in Obama’s second term, said Trump’s frustration has exposed the fallacy of his logic.
“He talked on the campaign trail as if Obama was just making a choice and was somehow reluctant to enforce immigration law,” Sandweg said. “Trump promised to unleash this massive enforcement apparatus, as if someone was pulling on the reins. But that’s just how the system works.”