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:
He’s getting positive initial headlines, but the order would call for families to be detained for months, maybe years (albeit together), and faces immediate legal problems – which the EO explicitly acknowledges.
This is not over. https://t.co/DQyz6Jf5XL
— Michael Kagan (@MichaelGKagan) June 20, 2018
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.