In May, the Trump administration announced a new policy: It would refer for criminal prosecution “100 percent of illegal southwest border crossings.” The Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, signed a memo “that directs the department to refer all suspected border-crossers to the Justice Department.”
The new policy means that parents who arrive at the border with their children will be sent to criminal detention facilities. Children cannot be sent to those facilities, and therefore are sent to separate detention facilities and deemed “unaccompanied minors.”
“We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to come to the border illegally. This is just the way the world works,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
Prior to the new policy, most families that arrived at the border were dealt with through a civil removal process. This kept families together.
Donald Trump, responding to criticism of his own policy, blamed it on a “horrible law” that was kept in place by Democrats.
Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
This is not true. There is no law that requires the Trump administration to separate families. Children as young as 1 year old are being separated from their families as a result of this new, discretionary Trump administration policy.
But when CBS’ Margaret Brennan was interviewing influential House Republican Mark Meadows about the issue on Sunday, she accepted Trump’s tweet as if it were fact.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you as well about immigration because we could talk all day about the other topic. The president tweeted yesterday that it’s a horrible law to have parents separated from their children if they cross the border illegally. Do you agree it’s horrible?
REP. MEADOWS: Yeah I think it is a horrible law. It’s one of those that actually —
BRENNAN: Do you want to change it?
At no point did Brennan mention that there was no law that required the Trump administration to separate families.
Meadows perpetuated the misinformation further by stating that there is “real bipartisan support” for changing the law, which does not exist.
CBS made the situation worse on Monday by posting an article about the interview which refers to “current federal law that compels the separation of immigrant children from their families crossing the U.S. border.”
The entire sequence of events paints a disturbing picture of a dysfunctional political system. The Trump administration implements a cruel new policy that separates young families at the border. The president then lies about the root of the problem, blaming the “law” and “Democrats” rather than his own policy. The media then perpetuates the lie as fact with the help of Republicans in Congress.
CBS has not yet issued any sort of clarification on the matter.