The Wall Street Journal slams Trump's family separation policy as 'morally unacceptable,' politically suicidal
The Wall Street Journal's editorial board tends to favor immigration for fiscal and business reasons, but on Monday night, the editorialists for Rupert Murdoch's flagship U.S. newspaper made the ethical and political case for Republicans to end President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy that separates children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. "Are Republicans trying to lose their majorities in Congress this November?" the editorial begins. "The party's internal feuding over immigration ... is fast becoming an election-year nightmare over separating immigrant children from their parents." The editorialists elaborate:
Trump officials are defending the policy as a deterrent to illegal entry, but surely they understand that separating parents from children is morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable. The immediate solution should be for the administration to end "zero-tolerance" until it can be implemented without dividing families. Congress can also act to allow migrants to be detained with children in facilities appropriate for families. Until that is possible, better to release those who have no criminal past rather than continue forced separation. [The Wall Street Journal]
Broadly, the editorial accuses GOP "immigration restrictionists" and Stephen Bannon of forcing the Republican Party to commit political seppuku. "The restrictionists don't want anything to pass because they want to use immigration to drive conservative turnout in November," the editorial board writes. "This is self-destructive politics. ... House control will be won or lost in swing districts where legalizing the Dreamers is popular and separating families isn't." The Journal appeals to Trump as well: "If Mr. Trump wants to lose the House and risk impeachment, he'll take Mr. Bannon's bad advice and keep giving Democrats a daily picture of children stripped from their parents."
Trump-agnostic New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd made a similar case by dubbing audio of separated children wailing for their parents over video of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defending the program. Peter Weber
— Maureen Dowd (@maureendowd) June 18, 2018
On Sunday, five people were killed in southern Texas when the SUV they were in crashed during a pursuit with Border Patrol agents and a sheriff's deputy, authorities said.
Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd said there were 14 people in the SUV, which skidded off the road and flipped over several times. Most of the passengers were ejected from the vehicle, with four dying at the scene and one at the hospital. Several others were injured. The SUV was going at least 100 mph when it crashed.
The Border Patrol said an agent suspected a "smuggling event" was underway when the SUV was spotted driving down the road, flanked by two other vehicles. Agents stopped the two cars and arrested multiple people from both vehicles, but the SUV would not pull over for agents and later a sheriff's deputy who took over the chase right before the crash, The Associated Press reports. Boyd said the driver and one passenger, who both survived, are believed to be U.S. citizens, and the rest undocumented. "This, I think, is a perfect example of why our borders need to be secured," he said. Catherine Garcia
U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement acknowledged Thursday night that it is transferring more than 1,600 people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border to federal Bureau of Prisons facilities, including parents separated from their children. ICE said it will use 1,000 beds at a federal prison in Victorville, California; 209 beds in SeaTac, Washington; 230 beds in La Tuna, Texas; 230 beds in Sheridan, Oregon; and 102 beds in Phoenix. The use of federal prisons "is intended to be a temporary measure until ICE can obtain additional long-term contracts for new detention facilities or until the surge in illegal border crossings subsides," an ICE spokeswoman said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked ICE for more information on the detentions Thursday night, arguing that "the Trump administration's new family separation policy is inflicting intentional, gratuitous, and permanent trauma on young children who have done nothing wrong and on parents who often have valid claims for refugee or asylum status." Crossing the border illegally is usually a misdemeanor, and historically, migrants with no criminal history who are seeking asylum or refugee status were released while their cases proceeded; Trump ended that policy in May.
Immigration advocates aren't the only one upset about ICE's new move. John Kostelnik, head of the union local that represents workers at the Victorville prison, warned in a letter that "we are not staffed adequately to accommodate this change in our mission."
On Wednesday, a federal judge in California criticized Trump's new policy of separating children from their parents at the border, saying the American Civil Liberties Union can move forward with its lawsuit to end the policy. If Trump's "zero tolerance" policy is being carried out as the ACLU describes, wrote U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, a George W. Bush appointee, it is "brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency." Peter Weber
In May, Border Patrol agents arrested close to 2,000 more immigrants trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border compared to April, per statistics released by the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday.
Also up is the number of unaccompanied children — in April, 4,302 crossed illegally, while 6,405 did so in May. In March, April, and May, more than 50,000 immigrants attempted to enter the U.S. at the southern border each month. DHS spokesperson Tyler Q. Houlton said the number of people trying to cross remains high, but shows "that while the Trump administration is restoring the rule of law ... no one expects to reverse years of political action overnight or in a month."
David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, disagrees, telling NBC News it appears President Trump's tough talk regarding the border isn't scaring people away. "I think it's desperation," he said. "They think it's better to spend time in detention than face what they're facing in the Triangle." The Triangle refers to the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Catherine Garcia
California will deploy 400 members of the National Guard in response to President Trump's request for military action at the southern border, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced Wednesday. The deployment, however, will not go toward immigration enforcement.
"This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life," Brown said Wednesday in a statement. Rather, California's governor has agreed to accept federal funding for increased National Guard presence in order to focus on halting human trafficking and the smuggling of drugs and firearms into the state.
Brown has frequently clashed with the Trump administration over immigration enforcement strategies, and he specifically stated Wednesday that "the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws." Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been especially frustrated with Brown's rejection of increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts, announcing last month that the Department of Justice would sue California for "intentionally obstructing" ICE.
When Trump called for increased military presence in border states, Arizona and Texas quickly jumped on board while California delayed its response. The Department of Homeland Security stated that the National Guard would not be deployed for direct immigration enforcement such as arrests, but for border surveillance and general support. Summer Meza
President Trump will sign a proclamation Wednesday directing agencies to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.'s southern border with Mexico, Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday.
Details of the plan are still "being finalized," Nielsen said, but deployment will begin "immediately," Politico reports. The president has instructed the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to work with state governors to send an undisclosed number of troops to "assist the border patrol," which the DHS secretary said would primarily mean aerial surveillance and general support, rather than arresting immigrants or other enforcement efforts.
Previous administrations have called on the troops for increased border security, NPR reports, but how the size and cost of this particular operation compares to previous deployments remains to be seen.
The announcement comes after Trump's call for military action to secure the border "until we can have a wall." The president has ramped up his border-security talk in recent days, after hearing reports of an immigrant caravan that is headed toward the U.S. The caravan is a group of individuals, primarily from Honduras, that is seeking asylum in Mexico and the U.S. to flee instability in their home country.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that Trump's decision was related to media reports about the caravan, but a statement from Attorney General Jeff Sessions described the move as exactly that. "The president was clear that this caravan needed to be stopped before it arrived at our southern border," reads Sessions' statement, "and his efforts now appear to be successful."