After a tremendous amount of public outrage, Trump finally relented and decided to end the policy of separating children from their parents. All is well again, right? As this is a post about a political solution to a political problem, you know that the answer is no. The executive order signed by Trump didn’t really improve the situation:
President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order that ends the separation of families by indefinitely detaining parents and children together at the border.
Mr. Trump’s executive order directed the government’s lawyers to ask for a modification of an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that currently prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention — even if they are with their parents — for more than 20 days.
But it is unclear whether the court will agree to that request. If not, the president is likely to face an immediate legal challenge from immigration activists on behalf of families that are detained in makeshift facilities.
If Trump’s request is granted, children won’t be separated from their parents but will instead be detained potentially forever alongside their parents. This raises a lot of questions about ethics. For example, what happens if a child is illegally brought into the United States with their parents when they are young but they come of age during a lengthy detainment? The child didn’t choose to cross the border illegally, they were brought by their parents. However, they’re now adults and in the country illegally. Are they prosecuted even if the reason they’re in the country and legally considered an adult is because they were detained by law enforcers?
What is happening now is what inevitably happens whenever a zero tolerance policy is implemented. The flexibility that allows absurd situations to be avoided is gone so now the absurd situations come into existence. Unless the zero tolerance policy currently in place is removed, we’re going to be seeing a lot of absurd situations crop up and, in this case, those situations are going to involved complex ethical questions.