While his critics scream for an immediate fix to the issue of children being separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally, President Trump is looking for long-term solutions.
On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order to “keep families together.” The order mostly clarified existing law, addressed steps for allowing families to stay together while being processed, and emphasized the need for Congress to make fixes, too.
But Trump doesn’t want to just band-aid the problem in an attempt to pacify critics accusing him of being a “child abuser” or “kidnapper” imprisoning children in “concentration camps.” The intensity of the emotional, misinformation-driven attacks on him would undoubtedly make such an attempt vain.
On Tuesday, the president addressed the source of the illegal immigration problem during a speech at the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington, D.C. He blamed congressional Democrats for not fixing loopholes in their 2008 law that have led to exploitation by human traffickers and to children being separated from their parents.
“Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis: We can either release all illegal immigrant families and minors who show up at the border from Central America, or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry,” Trump explained, according to a White House transcript.
“Those are the only two options,” he continued. “Totally open borders or criminal prosecution for law breaking. And you want to be able to do that. We don’t want people pouring into our country. We want them to come in through the process, through the legal system.”
“Keep in mind, those who apply for asylum, legally, at ports of entry, are not prosecuted. The fake news media back there doesn’t talk about that,” he added.
“So what I’m asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year — the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit,” Trump explained.
Then the president said something that really caught the room’s attention.
“Now, think of all that aid that we give some of these countries. Hundreds of millions of dollars we give to some of these countries, and they send them up,” he said. “Well, I’m going to go, very shortly, for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up — not their best — we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries.”
“Why should we?” he asked rhetorically.