Keep track of the head-spinning developments since the Trump administration enacted its “zero tolerance” policy.
On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan announced that the Trump administration would adopt a “zero tolerance” policy for anyone caught illegally crossing into the United States. Those apprehended would be referred to the Department of Justice and prosecuted for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.
In the weeks since, thousands of families have been separated as a result of the policy. Parents have been sent to jail while their children have been labeled “unaccompanied minors” and taken into government custody. (In some cases, this means cages.)
There have been calls for Department of Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen to step down. All four living first ladies have harshly criticized family separation. Republicans have begun speaking out against President Donald Trump, voicing increasing anxiety that this issue will hurt them in the midterms.
Amid mounting public pressure, President Trump on June 20 signed an executive order directing his administration to end family separations.
But the story doesn’t end there: Trump’s order replaces a policy of separating families with one of holding families together in jail-like facilities — possibly indefinitely, if the administration has its way. And the executive order also does nothing to reunite the more than 2,000 families who have been split up by his zero-tolerance policy.
There’s a lot to understand, so we’ve rounded up a mix of podcasts, videos, and articles to help you make sense of it all.
For those who prefer to read over listening to a podcast, our senior reporter Dara Lind penned a comprehensive explainer about why children have been sent to “foster care or whatever” while their parents were being detained in jail. This is a great place to start.
2) Listen: 2,000 from Today, Explained
CBS’s David Begnaud has recounted his experience touring a holding facility in Texas for children and their families, and Vox’s Dara Lind has explained why some conservatives are denouncing Trump’s new policy. This is a smart 20-minute primer for people who are low on time.
ProPublica obtained audio on Monday of several children sobbing and crying for their parents and other family members at a border patrol facility in Texas. ProPublica reporter Ginger Thompson has explained who these children are, what’s happening to them, and why.
4) Listen: Which children matter? from The Weeds
Looking to go deeper? Join co-hosts Dara Lind and Matt Yglesias for a comprehensive conversation with Vox senior reporter Jane Coaston about the ideological roots of Donald Trump’s family-separation policy.
The Trump administration has always said it wouldn’t waste money and time on separating families if it could detain them together. Now, it’s going ahead and doing just that. But this means immigrant children could be detained in jail-like facilities for weeks or months — and the courts will need to weigh in on if the new policy is legal.
What happens when an immigrant family arrives at the US border? Alvin Chang’s visual story should help you get a better understanding of how the process of separating families works — and the way the Trump administration is justifying it.