Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
It's not too late to give. Donate now to help us close an $11,000 budget gap!

Logan Residents React To Trump 'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy

Group of migrant children together on mats with silver shock blankets.
US Customs and Border Control

After intense pushback against separating migrant children from their parents at the United States southern border, President Trump signed an executive order ending these separations. 

The order potentially challenges a 1997 ruling that limits the number of days children can be detained to 20. On the streets of Logan, people responded to the policy. 

One commenter was Tom at the Logan Tabernacle. 

"Well, the family separation thing, it’s a political deal and the broadcasting companies are all making hay-I, you know," he said. "And those people that are having their children separated, they know they’re gonna do that before they get here. That’s just standard procedure, they been doing it for years since President Clinton. It’s just a news media gimmick so I don’t pay much attention to it." 

In fact, family separations were part of President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy for migrants crossing borders illegally, and more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents since early May. However, it is true that under President Clinton, it became easier to charge and deport migrants.

Another Logan resident, Taylor, was on a break near Café Ibis. 
"I feel like they’re trying to make a better life for their families and I don’t blame them for coming here," she said. "I feel like they should at least be given a shot. Especially if they are coming here and they’re trying to better their lives, they’re working, they’re doing what they can, they’re putting their kids in and want them to get education and stuff. And I think that’s awesome." 

After public scrutiny and bipartisan pressure, President Trump signed an executive order to end the family separations. The order did not include plans on how to reunite families. On Wednesday evening, border control officials were instructed to stop referring parents who cross illegally to courthouses. Instead, the decision to prosecute rests with the Department of Justice.
UPR’s Tom Williams spoke to Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Sonia Nazario about the immigration crisis. Nazario said the majority of migrants coming to the U.S. at the southern border are trying to escape gangs and drug-related danger in some of the most dangerous countries in the world.
"[There is] large control by narcos who were working with the gangs in these countries and who were forcibly recruiting children to join or be killed," she said. "Nine-, 10-year-old boys being told you need to join us or we’re going to kill your family. Girls who are told you have to be the girlfriend of the gang leader or we’re going to exterminate your whole family. And so that’s producing this exodus of refugees. These are very different from economic migrants. The UN interviewed these kids in 2014 and found that 6 in 10, the primary driver now was that someone was trying to kill them back home."
Nazario said even when kids are detained with their parents, the children’s welfare is compromised.
"They regress to bedwetting, 9-year-olds have gone back to asking their mothers to go back to breastfeeding," she said. "They lose weight, they have nightmares. They’re lethargic, they’re depressed, they become suicidal. Even studies commissioned by ICE show that this is not good for children and recommended that children not be detained with their parents."
Nazario also said detention undermines the family unit and prevents parents from parenting freely.
"As someone said to me yesterday, we’re trading kids in cages for families in cages," she said.
According to Nazario, humane solutions to handling migrants who enter the U.S. illegally are an option. She said utilizing a pilot program from 2016 that released parents with their kids is the way to go.
"People are running for their lives," she said. "The solution is you assign them a case manager. With these case managers 99 percent of immigrants show up to their case hearings and when they’re ordered to deport 79 percent of them did so."

For now, it is unclear what will happen with the more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their families, or how the new executive order to detain families together could potentially conflict with the 1997 ruling limiting how long children can be jailed.