One day after the bombshell NBC report based on a previously-undisclosed administration memo showing that the Trump administration weighed targeting migrant families, speeding up deportation of children and specifically targeting parents in migrant families for increased prosecutions, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) formally asked the FBI to investigate Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for perjury.
Nielsen swore under oath before the House Judiciary Committee that the Trump administration did not have a policy for family separation but they were simply enforcing existing law, saying, “We’ve never had a policy for family separation.”
But Merkley’s office says that the secret memo released yesterday shows that DHS was actively planning a family separation policy as early as December 2017.
“The FBI has previously indicated that the Department of Justice requires a formal criminal referral from Congress to initiate an investigation concerning Congressional testimony. I write today to execute such a criminal referral,” Merkley said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Merkley pointed out that Trump has shut down the government over a crisis he created.
“President Trump has shut down the government over a crisis we now know he deliberately created,” said Merkley. “This document shows Trump Administration staffers plotting to create a humanitarian crisis at the border—criminalizing the search for asylum, tearing children from their parents’ arms, and expanding the lock-up of both parents and children. This memo shows that the administration was treating children as political pawns, not vulnerable human beings. That’s reprehensible. We must end this Trump war on migrant children.”
On Wednesday, we learned that the Trump administration might have separated thousands more immigrant children from their parents than previously known. However, an internal watchdog said due to the administration’s “inadequate record-keeping” the exact number remains unclear.
Senator Durbin demanded that Nielsen resign based on the watchdog report about the possibly additional thousands of children separated from their parents.
Seeking asylum is legal. Refugees can either enter the U.S. and make the request for asylum or as resettled refugees in another country, per the The Refugee Act. It is actually illegal to turn away asylum seekers. The U.S. has legal obligations to provide asylum to those who qualify as refugees.
There are politically and racially motivated remnants of Trump’s 2017 Muslim ban in the Trump administration’s approach to asylum seekers at the southern border. And now it appears as if he directed his administration to create this chaos on purpose in order to justify his costly and ineffective wall.
Border security is certainly important, but the wall isn’t the way to achieve it and separating children from their parents not only does nothing to protect our country, but it’s an inexcusable affront to the very foundations of freedom that define our country.
Trump is right, there is a humanitarian crisis at the border. But it’s one he deliberately made by separating children from their parents.