I hope I’m not ruffling anyone’s feathers when I say that children should not be forcibly removed from their families.
Fortunately, the U.S. government agrees with me — after massive public backlash surrounding the separation of families that enter the U.S. illegally by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, that is.
Like any good public controversy, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the recent actions of the ICE and other border patrol agencies, so let’s take a look at the myths.
1. Children are being kept in cages
This is technically true, but highly misleading. According to National Public Radio, detained families (and, formerly, separated children) are kept in indoor, fenced-in environments for less than three days before being transferred to holding facilities with beds, individual rooms and even space for recreation and education, depending on the facility.
I don’t think anyone would necessarily want to be in these holding facilities — they’ve received heavy criticism over poor conditions — but viral videos showing children crying inside their new chain-link homes are either misunderstood, mislabeled or even fabricated.
2. Obama started it all
As far as I can tell, this one’s mostly true, but misleading. While the administration of former president Barack Obama certainly did detain families at the southern border who tried to immigrate illegally, the practice of separating children from their parents was put in place by President Donald Trump as part of what the Customs and Border Protection called a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal immigration.
President Trump’s recent executive order halting familial separation at the border is something of a return to the way things were before he took office. New families that enter the U.S. illegally will be detained rather than separated, but families that were already separated are pretty much out of luck.
3. Only immigrants who illegally cross the border are being detained
I wish this was 100 percent true, but not quite. According to NPR, all immigrants crossing illegally are being detained per the zero tolerance policy, but some families have been detained or separated after seeking asylum, if Customs even allowed them to seek asylum in the first place.
For those unaware, seeking asylum is the perfectly legal practice of requesting shelter in a foreign country at one of its ports of entry, typically due to fear of violence or death in an immigrant’s home country.
The numerous reports of immigrants being detained after seeking asylum would seem to suggest that the ICE isn’t following international law. The consequences of these violations remain to be seen, but I don’t think they’ll be pretty.
Kyle Hampel is the opinion editor for the Collegian and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.