Following data showing officials had kidnapped nearly 2,000 migrant children from parents at the border during a six week period this past spring, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen insisted there was no “zero tolerance” policy at all, tweeting that “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” But according to a newly obtained memo, that was a lie. Period.
“The memo, first reported on by the Washington Post on April 26, but never previously published, provides evidence that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen signed off on a policy of family separation despite her repeated claims denying that there was such a policy,” Open the Government and the Project On Government Oversight reveal. “The Post appears to have obtained a copy of the memo prior to its signature.”
The memo obtained by the groups was signed and said DHS could “permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted,” though the signature has been blacked out. “But,” Open the Government and the Project On Government Oversight continue, it was “almost certainly Nielsen’s, given that the memo is addressed to her.”
During a White House press conference that same month in response to widespread condemnation of the kidnappings, Nielsen again blatantly lied about the family separation policy.
Reporter: Are you intending for this to play out as this is playing out? Are you intending for parents to be separated from their children? Are you intending to send a message?
Nielsen: I find that offensive. No. Because why would I ever create a policy that ever does that.
Reporter: Perhaps as a deterrence?
However, as Open the Government and the Project On Government Oversight reveal, the memo “outlines three options for implementing ‘zero tolerance,’ the policy of increased prosecution of immigration violations. Of these, it recommends ‘Option 3,’ referring for prosecution all adults crossing the border without authorization, ‘including those presenting with a family unit,’ as the ‘most effective.’” The policy played out exactly as officials intended, and Nielsen clearly lied to the American people.
Under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy that she claimed never existed, nearly 3,000 children were intentionally stolen from parents, some as far back as a year ago. The administration kidnapped children with no plan set in place on how or when to reunite them with their parents, and only began to do so following an order from a federal judge. But, officials have even disregarded that, continuing to keep nearly 200 of these children in custody, more than 60 days after the court deadline.
Still, not one Trump official has been jailed, been fired, or been forced to resign over this catastrophic humanitarian disaster and subsequent violation of a court order. Among the top of the list should be Kirstjen Nielsen, who in true Trumpian fashion, stood on her platform and gaslighted the nation about what was happening before our very eyes. She knew about it, she apparently signed off on it, and then lied to our faces.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.