After repeatedly insisting that his administration’s policy of taking asylum-seekers’ children from them at the border is required by law and all the fault of Democrats, Donald Trump will sign an order shifting the policy to one of indefinitely detaining families without separating them. The New York Times reports that Trump, “furious about the pummeling he has taken in recent days, has been casting about for an escape from the crisis, people familiar with his thinking said.”
It’s illegal to put kids in jail with their parents, and, the Washington Post reports, three existing family detention centers are already almost full, “meaning ICE would potentially need to place children in its much larger network of immigration jails for adults.” Because releasing people while their asylum cases are heard is unthinkable, if you’re as cruel as Trump.
Indefinitely detaining children will face strong legal challenges, but Trump isn’t willing to do the right thing (ha) and back all the way down by ending the “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all asylum-seekers for the misdemeanor of illegal entry into the United States. Ending that policy is something he could easily do now—or never have started to begin with—because family separation is 100 percent a Trump administration creation. The administration now appears ready to challenge earlier court decisions limiting the amount of time children can be kept in detention.
A few of the big questions now are the details of how this will work out, how quickly the court challenges will proceed, and whether families that have already been separated will be reunited.