The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy toward migrant crossing the border isn’t actually “zero,” according to a new analysis. Border control has specifically targeted parents with children for prosecution, making family separation an even more deplorable policy.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University analyzed prosecutions during the weeks following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement that all people crossing the border illegally (and as it turns out legal asylum seekers) would be prosecuted. The administration said that family separations and baby jails was just the consequence of that. They lied. The analysis found that in May, 4,458 adults with children were arrested along with 24,465 adults without children, but only 9,216 were actually referred for prosecution. Only 32 percent of the adult immigrants crossing were charged—less than one in three were chosen for prosecution and those chosen were parents. Families were targeted.
“The Administration has not explained its rationale for prosecuting parents with children when that left so many other adults without children who were not being referred for prosecution,” the report said. The rationale is not hard to fathom. They’ve said they want to create a “deterrent” to immigration attempts. Word getting out that authorities were ripping children away from their parents would do the trick.
Susan B. Long, codirector of TRAC and a professor at Syracuse said the researched don’t yet have data on how many of those prosecutions have happened, but that the pattern was blatantly clear. “It wasn’t like [the prosecutions] were automatic; this was a conscious choice,” Long said. “We have yet to know the number of separations due to them being criminally prosecuted.”..