Donald Trump's poorly-handled reversal on immigration policy still leaves future of 2,000-plus children uncertain

An embattled Donald Trump — beset on all sides by critics of his immigration policy — reversed the decision to separate immigrant children from their parents on the US-Mexico border, on Wednesday. As he signed the executive order to this effect, the US president said, "It's about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border."

He went on to add, "Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it."

Unfortunately, and while it might seem like Trump has done the right thing at last, problems persist.

 Donald Trumps poorly-handled reversal on immigration policy still leaves future of 2,000-plus children uncertain

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

The first of these is the fact that the fate of those families already separated by Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy are not guaranteed a reunion. As CNN pointed out, "Trump's decision to criminally prosecute all adults caught crossing the border illegally — even if they have children with them — has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents and essentially defined as alone, then placed in (Department of Health and Human Services) custody." It is also being reported that three hundred of these migrant children are being sent to New York City in the coming weeks, with no clear idea of when they will be reunited with their families.

"This executive order would replace one crisis for another. Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances. If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken," Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The second problem is the horrible manner in which the entire saga has been handled. All the way from Attorney-General Jeff Sessions' remarks early in May that, "If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally" to Melania Trump's tasteless sartorial choices during a visit to the US-Mexico border, the Trump administration and those around it, haven't really given any impression of compassion. The president's own indignant tweet, in which he demanded the removal of the Filibuster, demonstrated to a great extent how little compassion there is in the White House over the issue of family separation:

Trump, who has constantly maintained that the law being used to separate families was the creation of the Democrats, also tweeted, "It is the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder Security and Crime. Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration. Change the laws!" After spending days blaming the Democrats, it appears all he had to do was to sign an executive order and reverse the policy. The perceived insincerity and callousness of the flip-flop also left a bad taste in the mouths of observers.

How the the Trump administration attempts to manage the fallout from the poor handling of this situation remains to be seen. As per current estimates, there are over 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents at the border.

With inputs from Reuters

Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 14:14:42 IST