Donald Trump and the baby snatchers

Family separation is one of the most callous policies the US president has implemented

Border crossers are delivered ‘into a child’s nightmare and a parent’s hell’. Photograph: Lynsey Addario/New York Times

Border crossers are delivered ‘into a child’s nightmare and a parent’s hell’. Photograph: Lynsey Addario/New York Times

Let’s start with the easy part. The policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border, delivering them into a bureaucratic labyrinth while their fathers and mothers await trial or petition for asylum, is the wickedest thing the Trump administration has done so far — and you can tell exactly how wicked by observing how unwilling White House officials are to defend the policy.

The true rationale has been clear from the beginning. Yes, it’s partially a byproduct of the tension between the administration’s desire to hold illegal arrivals while their status is adjudicated, and a court ruling that forbids holding children for more than 20 days. But the cruelty of separation was also deliberately chosen, in the hopes of reducing the number of families trying to make a dangerous border crossing by delivering the ones who get here into a child’s nightmare and a parent’s hell. It’s only since the cruelty has become palpable instead of theoretical that the Trump team has fallen back on the claims that their hands are tied, that they don’t want to do this, but law and order requires it, what can you do?

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