Trump ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ Means Caged Children at US Border

FILE - In this June 18, 2014 file photo, two female detainees sleep in a holding cell, as the children are separated by age group and gender, as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. President Donald Trump has seized on an error by liberal activists for tweeting photos of detainees at the U.S.-Mexico border in steel cages and blamed the current administration for separating immigrant children from their parents. The photos were taken by The Associated Press in 2014, when President Barack Obama was in office. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

FILE – In this June 18, 2014 file photo, two female detainees sleep in a holding cell, as the children are separated by age group and gender, as hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Ariz. President Donald Trump has seized on an error by liberal activists for tweeting photos of detainees at the U.S.-Mexico border in steel cages and blamed the current administration for separating immigrant children from their parents. The photos were taken by The Associated Press in 2014, when President Barack Obama was in office. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

An unapologetic President Donald Trump defended his administration’s border-protection policies Monday in the face of rising national outrage over the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Calling for tough action against illegal immigration, Trump declared the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp” on his watch.

 

 

Images of children held in fenced cages fueled a growing chorus of condemnation from both political parties, four former first ladies and national evangelical leaders. The children are being held separately from parents who are being prosecuted under the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings.

“I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault,” Trump said Monday as his administration rejected criticism that the policy has resulted in inhuman and immoral conditions.

Trump pointed to more lenient policies under past administrations that had not charged all migrants who had crossed illegally.

“We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in an appearance before the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans.“Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards.”

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants, in part because regulations prohibit detaining children with their parents since the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

The current holding areas have drawn widespread attention after journalists gained access to one site Sunday. At a McAllen, Texas, detention center hundreds of immigrant children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)