March 24, 2023

A Senator just leaked a horrifying document exposing Trump team plot against innocent refugee kids

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President Trump’s primary legacy — even more so than the flagrant incompetence that infests his administration from the top down — will be his penchant for stomach-churning, systematic cruelty. Rightfully so, much ink and even more tears have been spilled over the Manichaean evil of Trump’s separation policy at the border, a directive which led to children being thrown in cages and families being torn apart forever.

Now, a new NBC News report has emerged that shows the Trump administration’s racist and brutal campaign against migrants along the Mexican border is and has been worse than we thought.

Administration officials apparently discussed accelerating the speed at which migrant children could be deported by illegally refusing to let them exercise their right to an asylum hearing after they were taken from their parents.

The details of the sinister plan were outlined in a 2017 draft of the document which would eventually go on to become the administration’s official family separation policy. The document was leaked by a whistleblower according to Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who in turn provided it to NBC.

“If CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] issues an ER [expedited removal] for the entire family unit, places the parents in the custody of the U.S. Marshal, and then places the minors with HHS [Health and Human Services], it would seem that DHS [Department of Homeland Security] could work with HHS to actually repatriate [deport] the minors then,” one official wrote in the margins of the document.

The note did not specify how or even if efforts would ever be made to reunify the families.

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The horrifying revelations don’t end there, as the draft also shows that Trump’s lackeys wanted to increase prosecutions against migrant families, proving that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s insistence that the admin wasn’t specifically pursuing a policy of family separation was, in fact, another blatant lie.

In reality, the document starts with a suggestion to “Increase Prosecution of Family Unit Parents” because officials believed it would get more coverage from the media and in turn act as a “substantial deterrent” to scare off other migrants from heading for the United States in the future. What we see here is weaponized cruelty designed to achieve a xenophobic policy goal.

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A recent report from the Inspector General of HHS gives a sense of scope to the horrors these policies have inflicted on migrants. It states that the number of children taken from their families is unknown, but that it could possibly be thousands, a staggering number that should enrage every American with even one iota of humanity in their heart. Shockingly, even for an administration as brutal as this one, there was no system for tracking separated families until a federal judge stepped in to order it.

With these new revelations, Secretary Nielson has been revealed as a mendacious monster, and in a saner world, this would be enough to prompt her resignation. Since she’s clearly an individual willing to hurt innocent people to advance her own career, that eventuality seems unlikely. In any case, history will look back on her crimes with the same revulsion it will invariably heap on the president she chose to serve.

Original reporting by Julia Ainsley at NBC News.

Robert Haffey

Robert Haffey is a political writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.

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