Despite ‘zero tolerance,’ families continue to cross the border
According to government data, the number of families detained at the border with Mexico has remained constant over the past few months, demonstrating that the Trump administration's "zero tolerance policy" argument was not only chaotic but also ineffective.
Donald Trump's government no longer knows how to explain its anti-immigrant policies. From the stigmatization of all those who cross the border as "bad hombres," "animals" and "rapists," to the implementation of policies to separate families and detain underage children, its strategies have not only violated human rights but, considering the arguments, have been ineffective.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration would increase judicial processes, separate families and impose criminal penalties on those who tried to cross the border without documents.
The move was the result of panic in the White House after a caravan of refugees made a pilgrimage through Mexico to the border to demonstrate against violence in Central America and, in most cases, to seek asylum in the United States.
Sessions said that "we will not be a country that will be overwhelmed. People will not come in caravans or stampede across our border."
Despite the threats, families continued to cross the border, most of them separated for prosecution, causing the fury of civilian communities nationally and internationally.
Media pressure and the introduction of several lawsuits forced the government to try to soften its positions, and Vice President Mike Pence insisted that "the White House doesn’t want to separate the children from their families." But White House officials backed the measures, ensuring that it was a policy "to deter people who think of crossing the border illegally with their children."
It was not until a court imposed a deadline to reunite the separated families that the government tried to "reverse" some of the effects of its new policy, without achieving greater things.
Today, more than four months after the announcement of the attorney general, the results that the government hoped for are conspicuous by their absence.
According to the Washington Post, "the number of immigrant families detained on the border with Mexico has remained almost unchanged between the months of June and July," according to data released by the government. The Post explains that the figures are "an indicator that the administration's controversial move to separate thousands of parents and children did little to deter others from attempting the journey."
The figures of separated families have varied in a negligible percentage — 9,485 in May; 9,434 in June; and 9,258 in July — which the government has tried to explain through two flimsy arguments. These figures could be the justification for continuing to implement the policy, or the administration's efforts simply have not been enough against the obstacles from activists that the government has faced following the order of District Judge Dana Sabraw, which not only forced the government to reunify families but also maintained the prohibition to detain minors for more than 20 consecutive days.
The figures, however, are not absolute.
Although the number of arrests of family units has remained constant, the number of unaccompanied minors decreased considerably (from 5,093 in June to 3,938 in July), while whole families began to represent more than 20 percent of arrests in general.
The question we all ask ourselves is the same: has it really been worth it to force thousands of families to go through the pain, suffering, and anguish of separation?
Numbers seem to prove otherwise.