Here’s What Trump’s Executive Order to End Family Separation at the Border Really Means

A 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
A 2-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
Photo: John Moore (Getty Images)

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump finally decided that he’d done enough damage in embarrassing America on a global stage and signed an executive order to end the separation of migrant children from their loved ones at the U.S. border. Didn’t matter that he could have done this weeks ago or that he never had to do this at all; the president still took a victory lap because he’s a reality star who lives for applause. Or, as The Root staff writer Monique Judge reported, “Your President Is a Stunt Queen Who Manufactures Drama.”


The good news is that the executive order may stop the separation of children from their families; the bad news is that entire families could now be detained indefinitely—and some believe the order may not withstand legal challenges—because the Trump administration is making this all up as it goes along.

Also, what does this executive order mean for the 2,300 or so children who have already been snatched by the United States and spread throughout the country? The short answer is, who knows? The long answer is, hopefully, these children will be reunited with their loved ones at some point. But the urge to snatch children away from their families as an example of how America is tough on border policing was all the Trump administration could see.

As such, members of the administration weren’t focused on keeping track of the children they were taking. What Trump and his lackeys were hoping for was to put a win in the “Tough on the Borders” column to really rile up his white supremacist base. In truth, Trump saw these children as political pawns and honestly believed that separating children from their families was going to ensure him a victory with his cronies in the same way that his impassioned pleas against protesting black NFL players had. It was a heartless move that, in the end, proved too heartless even for his white nationalist zombie base. So Trump reversed course, and in doing so, he made things arguably just as fucked up as they were before.

While the president’s executive order—which, again, he didn’t need to issue, since he could have just stated that the policy of separating children at the borders was ending—may ensure that new families attempting to enter the United States illegally will be housed together, it does nothing to reconnect families that have already been separated.

According to CNN, not only does Trump’s executive order not address already separated families, but “those separated children are in facilities or foster homes spread across states far from the U.S.-Mexico border, including Michigan, New York, South Carolina and more.”

CNN also points out that the wording of this executive order doesn’t even clearly state that the separations will, in fact, end. Trump’s new plan says that families will be housed together “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” That caveat couldn’t be more gray if it were written by a racist Kinja user.


There are a lot of pieces in play here, and all of them set in motion by the Trump administration. The first is that Trump and everyone associated with him see brown children as animals. They must take that view, since that is the only possible justification for this level of treatment. Second, because the Trump administration sees brown children as animals, it had/has no problem ripping them away from their loved ones and sending them all over the country. And last, because the Trump administration sees brown children as animals, there is no effective plan to reunite those stolen children with their loved ones.

This new policy is a heavy-handed attempt to save face with Trump’s voters, since everything Trump does is for that adoration. He wants desperately to be worshipped by them. This had nothing to do with doing the “right” thing. Had his voters supported this level of heartlessness, separating children at the border would have continued, which is evident in the administration’s lack of a plan to reunite those children already taken from their families.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.



But wasn’t this always the plan? I remember, a couple of weeks after the Democratic Primaries. Geo group and CCA announced brand new detention centers built specifically to house families. And then a few months later after some protests by BLM activists, Hillary stopped taking money from both of them. My point being, this was a deal that was cut a loooooong time ago.