On Friday, the Washington Post reported that rather than reviving the forced separation policy that separated over 2,500 children from their parents in May and June, the Trump administration is considering a new family separation plan called the Binary Choice. This new plan would detain asylum-seeking families together for 20 days. After 20 days of detainment, the government would force parents to make a choice: to be detained with their children for months or years until their immigration case advances, or to allow their children to be taken to government shelters and to potentially be adopted by relatives or other individuals in the U.S.
President Trump confirmed to reporters on Saturday that he is considering new immigration policies and that he believed the family separation policy was effective, saying, “If they feel there will be separations, they won’t come.” There is no evidence to support his claim. In a 60-minutes interview with Lesley Stahl on Sunday, President Trump said he wants to change all immigration laws.The Binary Choice plan brings many questions. Currently, it is unclear where the government would hold families who choose to remain detained together. As the Washington Post reported, ICE does not have detention spaces for a large number of families. What would happen to parents who allow their children to be taken to government shelters also remains unclear. Permanent shelters are at full capacity, with over 12,000 children currently held in federal custody after crossing the border alone or being separated from their families.
According to the Washington Post report, the Trump Administration is confident the Binary Approach will be approved by the courts because the idea of giving families a “choice” was seemingly green lighted by U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw who ordered the government to reunite separated families in June. As of today, 66 children still have yet to be reunified or discharged.
The Binary Choice approach is heavily pushed by senior presidential advisor, Stephen Miller, who also helped write the initial forced separation policy. Miller was also reportedly responsible for sabotaging efforts to resolve the DACA emergency. Miller’s passion is restricting legal immigration, and as an aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions, he had a heavy hand in undermining the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate but blocked from coming up for a vote in the House. Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly is also considered to be to the extreme far-right on immigration issues.
Last month, roughly 2,000 unaccompanied minor children were quietly removed from shelters and transferred to a temporary Tent City in Texas as part of a mass reshuffling by the Trump administration. The Tent City in the border town of Tornillo currently holds roughly 3,800 children who do not have access to schools, and have limited access to legal services.
Newswire Sources: The Washington Post 10/12/18, 10/13/18; Bustle 10/12/18; CBS News 10/15/18.