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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Daily News Editorial Board

Editorial: As reunifications continue, family separation cannot be forgotten

Despite the dedicated efforts of a task force set up to facilitate reunifications, about a thousand migrant children separated from their parents, most under the now-infamous 2018 zero tolerance policy, remain separated. Even if all are eventually reunited, the scars left will be indelible.

There’s a reason this has become the symbol for Donald Trump and White House adviser Stephen Miller’s restrict-immigration-at-all-costs depravity. Most people, no matter how committed to their ideologies, still draw the line at intentionally harming and traumatizing children for a political end, let alone for punishing people whose transgression was seeking a better life.

With Trump’s departure from the White House, the plight of these children and their parents have largely faded from headlines and from public consciousness. Yet this is a horror that we must never forget, and never forgive, especially as it was done in our name.

Despite mealy-mouthed claims that separations were merely incidental, we know for a fact this was an explicit goal — then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “We need to take away children.” We know the authorities failed to make any plans for reunification or even properly record separations; that the separations often involved directly lying to and threatening parents; that parents were deported without their children; that children were left with unprepared contractors in substandard conditions; and that many of the people who directed all this tried to spin, obfuscate and otherwise hide what they’d done.

All this has been unearthed via dogged reporting and oversight by government inspectors general and Congress, who to their credit have stepped up to their investigative roles and not let go. Yet none of those who conceptualized and directed this heinous act — not Sessions, not Miller, not former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, not Trump — have faced real consequences for something we might demand tribunals for were it to have occurred abroad. In a just world, they might have faced a judge, but at the very least, they should never be allowed near the levers of power again.


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