Updated: May 3, 2020
Here is my take on the immigration situation taking place at the border. For starters, let me just say that I think if a country has laws, whether we like them or not, everyone should follow them. That said, we live in a wonderful country where we can vote for people that can help change laws we don't agree with. The use of "What about him....isms" or "the previous president did it..." serves no purpose other than to shift blame, not take ownership.
Furthermore to use the examples of incarcerated parents in the United States to justify the consequences of taking children away from their parents completely ignores what the statistics actually says. The vast majority (84 percent) of parents incarcerated in state prisons reported to the Bureau of Justice Statistics that at least one of their children was in the care of the other parent. Fifteen percent identified as caregivers by way of the grandparents, 6 percent other relatives and 3 percent reported that at least one child was in a foster home, agency, or institution. Also incarceration in this country is only done after a felony conviction, not a misdemeanor, as is the case in first time offenders of illegal immigration.
The laws and precedents that this administration is referencing WERE in fact created in a democratic administration.
The Flores Settlement / Agreement:
In 1997, the Clinton administration settled a lawsuit, Flores vs. Reno, that established standards for how immigration authorities should treat children in their custody. The settlement required officials to “place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate.”
In 2008, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) was created under the Obama Administration and strengthened federal
trafficking laws and added provisions that govern the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children who enter the United States. The law was passed with broad bipartisan support after careful consideration and debate.
THE SPIN and DEBATE:
The President is trying hard to place blame on the Democrats, which he can do so only partially since the legislation that his DHS Secretary was referring to occurred during a Democratic Administration. That said, the aforementioned policies, ONLY apply to unaccompanied children, and many of the children being separated are with "somebody".
THE CONFUSING PART:
This is where it gets complicated an unaccompanied alien child (UAC) is one who arrives in the United States alone or who are required to appear in immigration court on their own often are referred to as unaccompanied children or unaccompanied minors. “Unaccompanied alien child” (UAC) is a technical term defined by law as a child who “(A) has no lawful immigration status in the United States; (B) has not attained 18 years of age; and (C) with respect to whom—(i) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or (ii) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.” Due to their vulnerability, these young migrants receive certain protections under U.S. law. The immigration laws do not define the term “accompanied” children, but children arriving in the United States with a parent or guardian are considered accompanied, and are usually not separated.
Under the Trump Administration's "Zero Tolerance" policy, children cannot accompany their arrested parents to an adult criminal detention center. These children, apparently including infants and toddlers, are separated from their parents, in every circumstance, regardless if the child is with their legal parent or guardian. In some cases, this separation was warranted due to sex trafficking, and other illegal matter. What's different with the current policy is that undocumented immigrant families seeking asylum previously were released and went into the civil court system, but now the parents are being detained and sent to criminal courts while their kids are resettled in the United States as though they were unaccompanied minors.
Understandably, the government has limited resources and cannot prosecute every crime, so setting up a system that prioritizes the prosecution of some offenses over others is a policy choice. The Supreme Court has said, “In our criminal justice system, the government retains ‘broad discretion’ as to whom to prosecute.” To charge or not to charge someone “generally rests entirely” on the prosecutor, the court has said. This is where you will hear the administration say they do not have a family-separation policy. However, Trump officials are exercising their prosecutorial discretion to charge more illegal-entry offenses, which in turn causes more family separations.
This below article offers one of the best explanations on how the different policies of the past three administrations implemented their immigration practices.