President Donald Trump has claimed to hate the policy that separates families at the border even as some of his top officials say it’s a way to deter immigrants from crossing into the United States. But turns out the commander in chief is moving forward with the practice that the American Academy of Pediatrics describes as causing children “irreparable harm” because it is a good negotiating tactic to give him the upper hand with Democrats, reports the Washington Post. “The president has told folks that in lieu of the laws being fixed, he wants to use the enforcement mechanisms that we have,” a White House official said. “The thinking in the building is to force people to the table.”
Publicly, Trump has pushed the message that Democrats are the ones who have the power to change the policy. “I hate the children being taken away,” Trump said Friday. But, as the Post notes, using young immigrants as bait to get Democrats to agree to other demands isn’t new for the president. Previously he had tried to use protections for immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to try to get Democrats to agree to his immigration demands.
As far as negotiating tactics go this one seems particularly cruel, considering that, according to official figures, 1,995 children have been separated from the adults who were accompanying them in the six weeks ending on May 31. That is a huge increase from the almost 1,800 who were separated from their families from October 2016 through February, according to a previously reported figure. It was in April that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the decision to prosecute all people who cross the border without proper authorization.
Slate has put together a list of groups to support if you’re horrified and want to fight back against the policy of separating families at the border.