Some lies by President Donald Trump and his sycophants are amusing, some absurd, some self-serving, some cynical. But the torrent of alternative facts presented this week in justification of the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border represent a level of moral bankruptcy that belies description. Here, in brief, are the lies and the facts about what’s been going on:
- Congress and the courts did not force the Trump administration to start separating families at the border. No previous administration, operating under the same legal framework, has taken action like this. The recent events are entirely the product of a Trump administration policy to prosecute every adult who crosses the border illegally and to detain them in the meantime.
- Detention is not necessary to ensure adult migrants show up in court. The government has assorted means of electronic monitoring that have proven effective (and much cheaper) in achieving that goal.
- The “tender care facilities” in which the children are being held are not summer camps or boarding schools or any of the other Orwellian descriptions Mr. Trump’s supporters have concocted. They are places where children are warehoused without knowing where their parents are or when or whether they will ever see them again.
- Congress was not required to act to fix this situation. President Trump’s Wednesday executive order effectively admitted as much.
- The order does not really resolve the situation. Thousands of minors who have already been separated still don’t know how or when they’ll be returned to their parents, and the administration’s plan to detain families together in immigration facilities is of questionable legality.
- Finally, there was no reason to change the way we handled these cases in the first place. Trump administration officials claim a “surge” in illegally entry across the southern border, which is only true in comparison to abnormally low numbers in 2017. The rate of crossings is about the same as it was prior to that.
This is a crisis entirely of President Trump’s making. Any other explanation isn’t just an “alternative fact.” It’s a lie on an inhuman scale.
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