It turns out Trump's child separation policy was even more monstrous than we knew

Of all the harsh immigration policies the Trump administration has enacted, from slashing America's refugee resettlement program to building "The Wall," taking thousands of children away from their parents is by far the worst. The "zero tolerance" policy of separating families at the border drew so much international outrage that the administration eventually abandoned it and was ordered by the courts to reunite the families. In some cases, that process took far more than a year.

Now, an investigation shows that the implementation of the policy was even more inhumane than we knew.

According to the New York Times, five prosecuting attorneys who were told about the new policy in May of 2018 "recoiled" when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told them "We need to take away the children." The attorneys told officials in the Department of Justice that they were "deeply concerned" about the welfare of the children subject to that policy.

A week later, deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein told the prosecutors on a call that it didn't matter how young the children were. Government attorneys had apparently refused to prosecute two cases in which the children were barely more than infants, and it was made clear that they should not have done that.

"Per the A.G.'s policy, we should NOT be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child," John Bash, the departing U.S. attorney in western Texas, wrote to his staff immediately after the call. Bash was the one who had declined the cases involving babies, but Rosenstein overruled him.


This information comes from a draft report of a two-years investigation by the DOJ's inspector general, which included more than 45 interviews with key officials in addition to emails and documents. Officials say the final report could change, but what was revealed is shocking, even for those who are familiar with the policy and its implementation.

ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt expressed his shock at the report on Twitter.

Among the revelations in the report:

- A secret pilot program in 2017 along the Mexico border in Texas alarmed government attorneys. "We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants," one government prosecutor wrote to his superiors. "I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log."

- Border Patrol was stretched so thin from the family separation prosecutions that they missed serious felony cases, with one Texas prosecutor warning the DOJ that "sex offenders were released" as a result.

- U.S. Marshals had no warning before the policy was announced, which led to overcrowding and budget overruns because there was not preparation for it.

- DOJ officials have long claimed that they thought children would be reunited with their parents within hours, but there was no actual plan in place to get families reunited. "We found no evidence, before or after receipt of the memorandum, that DOJ. leaders sought to expedite the process for completing sentencing in order to facilitate reunification of separated families," the inspector general wrote.

Reading the NTY report, when confronted with who was ultimately responsible for the welfare of the children and for reuniting the with their parents, the officials involved in the policy either refuse to comment or point fingers elsewhere. No one wants to be the one to say, "I'm the monster," and of course the individual ultimately responsible for all federal policy is the president himself.

In fact, according to the Times:

"Gene Hamilton, a top lawyer and ally of Stephen Miller, the architect of the president's assault on immigration, argued in a 32-page response that Justice Department officials merely took direction from the president. Mr. Hamilton cited an April 3, 2018, meeting with Mr. Sessions; the homeland security secretary at the time, Kirstjen Nielsen; and others in which the president 'ranted' and was on 'a tirade,' demanding as many prosecutions as possible."

When "Prosecute 'em all!" becomes the policy or even misdemeanor illegal entry cases of asylum-seekers crossing the border in an area other than a port of entry, and no one plans for the fallout, chaos is inevitable and children ultimately pay the price.

"The department's single-minded focus on increasing prosecutions came at the expense of careful and effective implementation of the policy, especially with regard to prosecution of family-unit adults and the resulting child separations," the draft report said.

And what of the Border Patrol agents charged with carrying out the assignment of taking babies out of their parents' arms? One of them spoke to PBS Frontline about what that was like:

Make no mistake—children were traumatized by this policy. How could they not be? And that cruelty was exactly the point. Our government decided that punishing parents by traumatizing children would be an effective deterrent for people trying to enter the U.S., no matter what their circumstances.

There are certain lines that we, as a civilized society, simply should not cross. Knowingly causing harm to children is one of those lines. And the U.S. not only crossed that line, but hurdled over it with Trump's "zero tolerance" policy. Our own "of the people, by the people" government deliberately hurting babies and children is what we should truly have zero tolerance for. Not in our name. Not our watch.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

Keep Reading Show less