News & Politics

Here Are 5 Major Problems with Trump's Executive Order Supposedly Stopping Family Separations

Trump change his tune under pressure, but will it make any real difference?

Photo Credit: PBS Newshour

President Donald Trump presented the executive order he signed Wednesday as a solution to the problem of widespread separations of immigrant families — a problem he created — but it's unclear what effects the order will actually have.

Many experts believe, in fact, that the new order simply creates more problems.

"Lawyers I've spoken to say @POTUS exec order is a total disaster," tweeted Daily Caller White House Correspondent Saajar Engeti.

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Here are five major problems that still remain after the order was signed:

1. Children will still be detained, and it's not clear where.

First and foremost, many are pointing out that separating children from their parents, while horrendous, was not the only problem with Trump's original policy. Many argue that detaining young immigrant children, many of whom are fleeing violence and are applying for asylum, is inherently cruel.

"This Executive Order doesn’t fix the crisis," tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). "Indefinitely detaining children with their families in camps is inhumane and will not make us safe."

While Trump and his supporters argue that the people in question are illegal immigrants, it's important to remember that they have not actually been convicted of any crime — and the crime in question is a misdemeanor with no discernible victim. When Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort was jailed ahead of his trial for allegedly tampering with witnesses, Trump said he was being treated like he was a member of the "mob."

If indeed pre-trial detention is a cruel punishment, we shouldn't require it for vulnerable children and families.

2. Already separated children will not be returned to their parents.

Another major problem is that while the executive order supposedly stops the separation of families, thousands of children have already been taken from their parents. The executive order does nothing to address that, and reporting suggests there's no plan to bring these families back together:

 3. Some children may already be lost in the system. 

The former director of ICE John Sandweg has warned that many of the children taken away from their parents may never be returned. Some of the parents have already been deported, leaving their children in U.S. custody.

“You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,” Sandweg said of the policy.

4. Many children may still be separated from their parents

Enjeti notes that the executive order is "vaguely worded," meaning the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department may have different interpretations of it. When agents are actually in the field carrying out their orders, they may continue to separate many kids from their parents as they have been doing.

Making this problem even worse, Enjeti observes that the federal government has very few facilities that can accommodate detaining families together. So for practical reasons, agents may find themselves unable to carry out the spirit of the order.

5. The whole thing may be struck down.

Legal experts worry that the executive order itself may end up struck down in court. Under an agreement reached in the case Flores v. Reno, the government cannot detain children for very long for crimes that their parents are charged with. That means Trump's solution of "keeping families detained together" may not even be legally sustainable.

The real solution would be for the administration to back off its "zero-tolerance policy" — which is literally a policy of intolerance. The extreme measures taken at the border are unnecessary, and the administration itself spent over a year working under a very different policy. There's no good reason for it to continue these devastating practices.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.