Leaked document shows Trump administration planned to traumatize migrant children

The Trump administration intended to "traumatize children and intentionally create a humanitarian crisis at the border."


A newly leaked memo obtained by NBC News reveals that Trump administration officials considered speeding up the deportation of migrant children by denying them their legal right to asylum hearings.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who obtained the draft memo from a government whistleblower and shared it with NBC News, tweeted that this shows the Trump administration intended to “traumatize children and intentionally create a humanitarian crisis at the border.”

Even further, the draft shows that officials wanted to “specifically target parents in migrant families for increased prosections.”

The draft memo, called “Policy Options to Respond to Border Surge of Illegal Immigration” is dated December 16, 2017, has blueprints of options from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Some of the options have already been implemented. Although the memo refers to a “surge of illegal immigration,” numbers in December 2017 were actually near historic monthly lows. 40,519 undocumented immigrants sought to cross the southern border in December 2017 versus 58,379 the previous December.

One comment in the memo from a Justice Department official proposes that children who have been separated from their parents should be denied an asylum hearing, the family would be given an order of “expedited removal” after being separated and the child(ren) would be placed in the care of HHS. Normally children that arrive at the border alone are granted an asylum hearing before an immigration judge.

The memo appears to contradict Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s statement that the administration “not have a policy of separating families at the border” but was simply enforcing the law. Senator Merkley is now calling for an FBI investigation into whether Nielsen lied when she testified before Congress about the policy.

“Compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017,” Merkley states.


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Alexandra Jacobo is a dedicated progressive writer, activist, and mother with a deep-rooted passion for social justice and political engagement. Her journey into political activism began in 2011 at Zuccotti Park, where she supported the Occupy movement by distributing blankets to occupiers, marking the start of her earnest commitment to progressive causes. Driven by a desire to educate and inspire, Alexandra focuses her writing on a range of progressive issues, aiming to foster positive change both domestically and internationally. Her work is characterized by a strong commitment to community empowerment and a belief in the power of informed public action. As a mother, Alexandra brings a unique and personal perspective to her activism, understanding the importance of shaping a better world for future generations. Her writing not only highlights the challenges we face but also champions the potential for collective action to create a more equitable and sustainable world.