To hear most of the media and House and Senate Democrats tell it – and now even some prominent Republicans are allowing their emotions to cloud their judgment – President Trump is some sort of ogre intent on arbitrarily taking children away from their parents who happen to have illegally entered the U.S. and that he is lying when he says it would take an act of Congress to allow him to keep the family unit together.
But this is just another “fake news” installment. U.S. law requires separating a child when an adult becomes the subject of a legal proceeding involving detention. In the past, whenever an illegal alien was part of a family unit, he or she was not prosecuted. But President Trump has vowed to prosecute all adults.
When there is a prosecution for illegal entry, the subject is taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Any children are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services because children may not be detained together with their parents who are to be prosecuted. Practically speaking, they are separated for a relatively short period of time – until the illegal entry prosecution begins, which usually is a matter of a day or two since defendants typically plead guilty and return to their country of origin.
A special problem arises when an adult files an asylum claim, which can take many weeks or months to play out and involves incarceration during the entire period. Children who illegally come to the U.S. as part of a family unit can only be held for a maximum of 20 days. So it would be illegal to keep the family together.
The point of all of this is not to suggest that we are insensitive to the anguish experienced by affected children. It is only to suggest that what is really in play here is whether a United States president can properly take measures to protect the integrity of our borders and abide by the applicable laws that automatically kick in.
But a far different picture is being painted of the president by the anti-Trumpers who are really objecting to anyone or anything that doesn’t allow for our borders to be open to anyone who wants to come here. Unfortunately, there are now some who are unthinkingly buying into the “fake news” being peddled.