Children In The Crosshairs: How The Trump Administration Is Targeting Children & Families

By Andrew Soboeiro

What’s the most shocking thing about the Trump Administration? Many critics would say it’s the way the president and his officials blatantly violate norms of decency and fairness. This is never more clear than with immigration policy. From conducting mass raids to stripping vulnerable immigrant groups of protected status to targeting immigrants based on their political opinions, the Trump Administration has frequently endangered and repressed immigrants in its efforts to aggressively remove them. Perhaps most egregiously, the president has broken up families and put children in custody. In this way, he is jeopardizing the safety, health, and happiness of some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

Forcing Families Apart

As with many issues, the president has gone after immigrants not by passing new laws, but by aggressively enforcing existing ones. In this case, he has taken advantage of laws stating that when parents are apprehended at the border with their children and detained on criminal charges, the children are to be treated as unaccompanied minors. They are thus placed in the custody of the US Department of Health and Human Services, where they have few if any opportunities to see their parents. By choosing to prosecute all unauthorized border crossers in this way, the Trump Administration is ensuring that more families are broken up.

The Administration sees this as a way to dissuade undocumented immigrant families from crossing the border. For most parents, the idea of being forcibly separated from their children is too terrible to imagine. In theory, this will give foreign nationals a strong incentive not to cross the border without authorization. The president and his officials have decided that this is a reasonable measure to take, and have separated more than 700 children from their families since last October.

Inhumane & Impractical

Separating children from their parents to enforce immigration laws is, to put it mildly, monstrously inhumane. Young children need regular physical contact with their parents in order to cope with stressful situations. Without this contact, they will experience toxic stress, which leads to depression, heart disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a host of other health problems that affect them throughout their lives. Whatever the merits of curtailing unauthorized immigration, it’s not worth jeopardizing the lives and health of hundreds of innocent children.

Even putting aside moral and humanitarian concerns, it’s not clear that this policy is an effective way to lower immigration levels. Undocumented immigrants are often fleeing extreme violence or desperate poverty, if not both. Compared to these perils, many reason that they must get their children to the United States at any costs. Separating undocumented parents and children thus doesn’t dissuade border crossing. All it does is increase the chance that those children will suffer no matter what their parents do.

On top of all this, separating immigrant parents and children on a large scale will lead to a logistical nightmare. Officials in the Trump Administration have admitted that they likely don’t have the resources to house and care for thousands of children while detaining and prosecuting their parents. If excessive immigration really is a problem, Federal authorities have better uses for their time and money; if it isn’t, there’s no need for this policy in the first place. Either way, taking children away from their parents is indefensible.

For more information on the Trump Administration’s draconian policies, the changing nature of America’s immigrant communities, and other immigration issues, contact Vigoda Law Firm today at 919-307-7817.