Democrats have been severely critical of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding illegal border crossers, and have continued to oppose the administration even after his announcement on Friday that he would maintain family units together that had crossed illegally. Over the June 23-24 weekend, Democrats such as Sen. Kamala Harris of California headlined rallies at detention centers housing illegal immigrants, both minors and adults. On June 24, for example, the Democrat Party tweeted, “We are proud of all the Democrats who have traveled to the border this weekend to check on the safety and well-being of migrant children who are still separated from their parents.”

The Democrats’ Twitter account announced that it will “continue to push for the humane treatment of the families who come to our borders seeking asylum.” In reality, its is those persons who cross the international border illegally who are immediately put in detention. Those persons who present themselves at designated border checkpoints to apply for asylum in the legal fashion are processed appropriately. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who stepped down after being criticized for permitting the sale of weapons in the U.S. that went to the hands of Mexican narcotraffickers, tweeted, “Here’s another zero tolerance program for the Trump administration: Every child, every baby has to be reunited with his or her parents. No excuses. Make it happen.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) tweeted, “President Trump owes a solution to the families at our border and plan for reunification.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) tweeted that Guatemalan mother pleaded with U.S. authorities to be reunited with her daughter before being deported to her native country. “Mothers and fathers unable to recover their children is just on cruel consequence of Trump’s heinous family separation policy,” she wrote. However, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson verified on Monday that during his tenure in the Obama administration there were illegal aliens minors who were detained without parents.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted the question “How has failed U.S. economic policy contributed to families seeking asylum at the border?” and posted a video featuring Mexican immigrant Manuel Perez, an economist who theorizes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (which was signed by then-President Bill Clinton in the 1990s) is to blame for the displacement for workers and subsistence farmers in Central America who are fleeing violence in the region.

Many of the comments made by Democrats appear to echo those made by officials of countries contributing the bulk of illegal immigrants. For example, last week Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray released an official statement in which he criticized the Trump administration’s “cruel and inhuman” policy regard illegal immigrant minors. In a press release, Videgaray declared, “In the name of the government and people of Mexico, I express the most categorical and strong condemnation of the cruel and inhuman” policy. Even so, Videgaray said he “fully” respects the sovereignty of the United States but asserted that separating children from their family members to be a violation of human rights.

Immigration advocates also continued to demand that the Trump administration change its policy regarding Temporary Protected Status for immigrants, some of whom have been living in the country for more than a decade after the devastating Hurricane Mitch in Central America. Nationals of other regions are also seeking to remain in the United States. 

On Monday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales tweeted, “I have instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to immediately request the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) from the Government of the United States of America because immigration policy has always been a priority of my Government.” Also on Monday, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel tweeted that she joined Guatemalan consular officials on a visit to shelters in El Paso, Texas, where minors of Guatemalan nationality are being held by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

TPS was granted in years past to persons fleeing war and civil disturbances, as well as other temporary conditions such natural disasters, including the 1998 Hurricane Mitch in Central America. According to a 2017 by the Center for Migration Studies, there were approximately 325,000 migrants from 13 TPS-designated countries residing in the United States. Many have lived in the U.S. for more than two decades, arriving as minors and now have American citizen children. The president of Guatemala is asking the U.S. government that similar TPS status be given to persons arriving now at the U.S. border. 

 

In May, the Trump administration announced that it will no longer grant Temporary Protected Status to 57,000 Hondurans who have been living in the ever since Hurricane Mitch. They will have a last chance to apply for TPS for 18 months but will lose their protections on January 5, 2020, thus annuling their work permits as of that date and making them deportable. 

President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales

In its diplomatic note to the American government, the Guatemalan foreign ministry “regrets, condemns and rejects the immigration policy promoted by the United States Government, considering that it violates Human Rights and destroys the family unit.” The note asked the Trump administration to “reconsider its immigration policies and to seek actions that guarantee its objectives without overriding the rights of migrants or the family unit. Through this Foreign Ministry efforts are redoubled, in order to guarantee that our nationals receive the necessary support and advice, to ensure the full defense of the rights of the affected families.”

The diplomatic note that the government of Guatemala will discuss its issues with U.S. immigration enforcement during Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming visit to the region, and ask for “a prompt solution to the tragedy that overwhelms our Guatemalan brethren, who are in this situation.”

The government of El Salvador has also sent its consular officials to the border between the United States and Mexico to ascertain the condition of its citizens, in accordance with internationally recognized diplomatic practice. 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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