Yet the government never had a plan for keeping track of the separated parents and children once they were in custody, and, even after a federal judge in San Diego, Dana Sabraw, ordered the government to reunite them, it struggled to comply. “I definitely haven’t seen contrition,” an Administration official, who told me about the weekly meetings, said. “But there was frustration with the incompetence of how zero tolerance got implemented. From the perspective of the political leaders here, there’s recognition of how badly the policy failed.” The lesson, according to the official, didn’t seem to be that the Administration had gone too far in separating families but, rather, that “we need to be smarter if we want to implement something on this scale” again.
.. The main focus, the official added, has been to “map out” how the government can detain asylum seekers as they wait for a hearing before an immigration judge, which can take several months: “The job is to model all the steps in the process. If we go after families, where do we detain them? What are the resources required at each step?”
.. To date, no one in the Trump Administration has been held accountable for its family-separation policy, even after evidence has steadily mounted as to its immense human costs and administrative failures.
.. The government’s own data show that it has had no appreciable effect on migration patterns throughout the summer, but the Administration pursued the policy anyway
.. the prime movers behind zero tolerance were members of a “cabal of anti-immigration guys” at the White House, the D.H.S., and the Department of Justice. Stephen Miller and a Justice Department adviser named Gene Hamilton
.. They want to have a different America, and they’re succeeding. Now they’re doubling down—they’re making another run at lowering the number of refugees who are admitted to the United States.
.. The failure of the zero-tolerance policy has done little, if anything, to diminish the group’s standing; on the contrary, Miller has only seemed to gain allies in the government. Within the President’s inner circle, according to the Times, he is considered a “walking policy encyclopedia” on immigration.
.. it was Border Patrol agents at C.B.P., not ice officers, who took children from their parents’ arms.
.. During the summer, the commissioner of the agency, Kevin McAleenan, denied that the Trump Administration was deliberately separating families, even as he directed implementation of a policy doing just that.
.. Ronald Vitiello, the deputy commissioner of C.B.P. and a law-enforcement veteran, was tapped to replace Thomas Homan as the director of ice.
.. Some five hundred and sixty children are still separated from their parents, including twenty-four who are five years old or younger
.. families face a choice: either a parent and child can agree to be deported together, or the child can stay in this country alone while her own case is decided.
.. I asked the current Administration official whether the outcry over family separation had caught the government by surprise. It had, the official said. “The expectation was that the kids would go to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, that the parents would get deported, and that no one would care.” Yet, when it became clear that the public did, the Administration chose not to change course.