The Atlantic

Trumpism, Realized

To preserve the political and cultural preeminence of white Americans against a tide of demographic change, the administration has settled on a policy of systemic child abuse.
Source: John Moore / Getty

At least 2,000 children have now been forcibly separated from their parents by the United States government. Their stories are wrenching. Antar Davidson, a former youth-care worker at an Arizona shelter, described to the Los Angeles Times children “huddled together, tears streaming down their faces,” because they believed that their parents were dead. Natalia Cornelio, an attorney with the Texas Human Rights Project, told CNN about a Honduran mother whose child had been ripped away from her while she was breastfeeding. “Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing,” the Associated Press reported. “One cage had 20 children inside.”

In some cases, parents have been deported while their children are still in custody, with no way to retrieve them. John Sandweg, a former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told NBC News that some of these family separations will be permanent. “You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,” he said.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly blithely assured NPR in May that “the children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever.” The administration’s main focus is not the welfare of the children, as much as the manner in which breaking up families at the U.S.-Mexico border could send a message to other migrants fleeing violence or persecution. Kelly defended the policy as a “tough deterrent.”

The crisis, to the extent that one exists, is of the administration’s own making. The people fleeing to the U.S. border are a threat neither to American economic prosperity nor to public safety, there is not requiring an extreme response. There are a variety of options for dealing with them short of amnesty, and the separation of families is not legally required.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min readPsychology
Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers
They can be identified by their independent-bookstore tote bags, their “Book Lover” mugs, or—most reliably—by the bound, printed stacks of paper they flip through on their lap. They are, for lack of a more specific term, readers. Joining their tribe
The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
The End of Netanyahu’s Unchecked Reign
The results yielded no clear path to a governing coalition, but represented a rejection of two dangerous ideas.
The Atlantic13 min readPsychology
How to Keep Teachers From Leaving the Profession
After 38 years in education, Judith Harper thinks what teachers are missing is more time to learn from one another.