Peter Hasson, DCNF
President Donald Trump has found some critics on the Right over his administration’s policy of separating illegal immigrants from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April that the administration’s efforts to prosecute all illegal border-crossers would include parents crossing with their children.
A federal judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration couldn’t hold immigrant children with their parents at family detention centers, citing a 1997 legal settlement prohibiting the government from jailing children who cross the border illegally.
The end result is the government either has to separate the children as they detain and prosecute their parents, or release the family as its case makes its way through the courts. The Trump administration has argued the latter action would only incentivize further illegal immigration.
Sessions made clear in his April announcement that crossing the border with a child doesn’t grant an exemption from prosecution and detention. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you,” he said. “If you are smuggling a child, we will prosecute you, and that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”
Some conservatives have argued that the Trump administration is going too far in its efforts to deter would-be illegal immigrants and that children shouldn’t be separated from their mothers.
Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist at The Daily Beast and CNN commentator, called the policy “unacceptable and inhumane” on Twitter.
“I don’t think it’s fair to solely blame Trump for this policy, but I do think that — since we have now seen how bad this is (the fact that our government can’t even account for nearly 1,500 migrant children) — his administration must work to fix this immediately,” Lewis told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“That could mean changing the laws (to ensure someone is held accountable) or providing HHS with more funds to do the job. Either way, it has to be done. It’s possible to believe in borders and the rule of law — and also to treat people with dignity and compassion,” said Lewis, a former Daily Caller columnist.
Princeton University professor Robert George, a prominent conservative intellectual, compared the policy to Ireland’s constitutional referendum on Friday that overturned a nationwide ban on abortion, calling both “dreadful.”
“Pro-lifers, if you’re upset about ripping a child out of his mother’s womb, please be upset about ripping a child out of his mother’s arms at the border,” conservative writer Erick Erickson wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Responding to illegal acts with evil acts is not the way of a moral people.”
Trump attempted to distance himself from the policy on Saturday. The president blamed Democrats for “the horrible law that separates children from [their] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.”
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