Feminists Have Zero Tolerance for the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy

The Trump administration’s so-called zero-tolerance immigration policies are ripping families apart—yet they refuse to accept blame for the chaos and national shame incurred by the horrifying and heart-wrenching scenes unfolding along the border.

Feminists won’t be fooled by the Trump administration’s misinformation campaigns attempting to eschew blame for the border crisis. Instead, they’re fed up and fighting back.

Practices put into place by the Trump administration mandate that all adults entering the U.S. at its border with Mexico, including those looking to secure asylum, are detained and criminally prosecuted—and their children are taken from their arms and put in separate facilities. What’s worse, many families remain separated even after adults’ cases have processed—leaving hundreds of miles between parents and their children with no promise by the U.S. government of when they will be reunited. The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it is also contemplating constructing a “tent city” for detained children on a military base—effectively exempting the camp from licensing standards for care facilities.

In the last six weeks alone, nearly 2,000 minors have been seized from their parents and guardians by U.S. officials. MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff visited Casa Padre, a children’s detainment center in California, and witnessed children treated like prisoners—they ate in shifts like caged animals, slept packed five to a room in overcrowded cages and spent 22 hours a day inside. In a recording obtained by ProPublica, border patrol agents at the border can be heard mocking young children who are sobbing and crying out for their parents. in the wake of being ripped from their parents at the border.

“Trump is literally holding children hostage in an attempt to force Congress to pay a $25 billion ransom that will fund his border wall,” Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority President, said today in an email to members. “These children are scared and alone in facilities that look and feel like cages. It must stop. These children must be returned to their families.”

Smeal isn’t alone in her outrage. Women on every side of the aisle—including former First Ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—have spoken out in protest of the Trump administration’s inhumane border policies. Last week, feminist and human rights activists including Smeal and a slew of lawmakers protested family separation in Washington D.C. and rallied in support of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from stripping children from their mothers and fathers to discourage these families from migrating to America “at or near the port of entry within 100 miles of the border.”

White House officials have repeatedly lied to mainstream media outlets as outrage has grown over the inhumane treatment of migrant families at the border, suggesting that Democrats are responsible for the family separation policy and attempting to hold them accountable for reversing it. But families reaching the border previously were very rarely separated—and no federal law requires or suggests the family separation policy. Now, Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration are using the family separation crisis as leverage to demand funding for a multi-billion-dollar border wall, demanding that lawmakers “compromise” and pass legislation in the House and Senate fundings its construction.

The Feminist Majority has launched a petition campaign demanding that Senators and Representatives support legislation protecting migrant families and reject bills funding a border wall—and calling on the President and Vice President to put an immediate end to the practice of separating families at the border.

“Trump can single-handedly end this separation policy today if he so chooses, but so far, he has cold-heartedly refused,” Smeal wrote to members in an email announcing the action. “That means Congress must use their oversight authority to stop separating families immediately.”


Emma Encinas is a former editorial intern at Ms.