How the right is justifying the separation of families at the border

  • Some conservatives have defended the Trump administration’s decision to separate children from parents who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border.
  • Republicans are shifting the blame to Democrats, despite the policy being discretionary.

WASHINGTON – A handful of conservatives are backing President Donald Trump’s decision to have families of undocumented immigrants separated at the US-Mexico border, while many others are falsely claiming the policy is a concrete law put in place by Democrats.

There is not any law on the books that mandates children be separated from their parents if the family is caught crossing the border illegally. The policy is a purely discretionary one, which the Trump administration is choosing to enforce.

While some Republicans have condemned the practice as abhorrent and cruel, others have taken a different approach. The Family Research Council, a conservative activist organisation whose annual gathering Trump has spoken at, is backing the policy as necessary.

FRC President Tony Perkins wrote on the group’s blog on Friday that the separation of families is the fault of the immigrants, not the Trump administration’s.

“It’s impossible to feel anything but compassion for these kids, who must be dealing with a great deal of pain and confusion,” Perkins wrote. “But the origin of that pain and confusion isn’t US law or the Trump administration. That burden lies with their parents who knowingly put them in this position.”

Perkins compared the administration’s practices to Child Protective Services, which will often remove kids from dangerous or abusive homes.

“When all else is equal, of course we want families to stay together. But let’s also remember that this situation isn’t unique to the border,” he wrote. “I can tell you from my time in law enforcement: If a parent or parents are arrested here in the states, the children are turned over to Child Protection Services [sic], who holds them until a foster family can be identified. In both circumstances, the children are compassionately cared for – not held in dank rooms behind bars, as some liberals would have you believe.”

Administration officials shifted blame to Democrats. White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Monday morning that “this is all the Democrats’ doing.

“This is up to the Democrats, they could fix this right now,” Gidley said.

And conservative media outlets have downplayed the separations and conditions of children being held at facilities once apprehended.

House Speaker Paul Ryan punted on the issue, saying in a press conference on Thursday that it “ought to be addressed” in upcoming legislation, despite the fact that the Trump administration could reverse course at any time.

Few Republicans have spoken out against the separations by accurately addressing the circumstances. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska broke with the Trump administration on Monday in a lengthy Facebook post.

“Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong,” Sasse wrote. “There are other options available to them.”

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