Cortez Masto: Trump started it, and executive order doesn’t fix it

President Donald Trump “caved” – as the New York Times put it – to pressure and signed an executive order to end policy that was separating families at the border, but Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is not impressed.

Trump’s order “still enforces his cruel immigration policy that prosecutes parents fleeing violence to protect their kids,” CortezMasto said in a statement. And Trump’s order “will still target families and keep children behind bars,” she added.

Under the executive order signed Wednesday, migrants who cross the border will continue to be criminally prosecuted, but families won’t be separated while they are detained awaiting disposition of their case in court.

The Trump administration’s “new ‘zero tolerance policy'” was announced in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a release headlined “Attorney General Announces Zero-Tolerance policy.” The statement described the shift in enforcement priorities as part of “an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border.”

In recent weeks, as criticism and outrage escalated over U.S. policy that separated thousands of children from their parents and has confined the children in chain link cages, Trump and his administration repeatedly said, falsely, that it was not the result of Trump administration policy, and that Congress was to blame. In recent days, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen even denied the existence of the policy, tweeting “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

The incorrect charge that Congress is to blame for children being separated from their families was repeated in the executive order signed Wednesday: “It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

Cortez Masto didn’t see it that way. Trump “created crisis after crisis and used human beings to advance his political agenda,” she said.

She was far from the only one unimpressed with Trump’s latest order. UNLV Law professor and immigration attorney Michael Kagan also spotted problems:

And Make the Road Nevada, a group that organizes and advocates for working class immigrants, described the border situation in a statement as “a humanitarian crisis” and said that “placing families together in one facility does not change the bigger problem, which is helping families that seek a safe home in the U.S.”

“Families belong together in communities, not in jails,” the group’s statement said.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing and reporting about Nevada policy and politics since 1997. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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