In the News

Careless Cruelty

Author Scott Shuchart, a former public servant, reflects on the dishonesty and cruelty of the Trump administration's family separation policies and his decision to leave the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The meeting was way overdue, and it wasn’t going well.

It was May 21. The Department of Homeland Security, where I worked as a senior adviser in the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, had been making a show of prosecuting undocumented immigrant parents for weeks, cleaving them from their children without paying much attention to where the family members went or setting up any procedure for tracking and reuniting them later.

My office had played a central role, for years, in Homeland Security’s treatment of families and children. But when a cadre of Trump administration political appointees put the family separation plan into motion, neither they nor the career staff in the immigration enforcement agencies under DHS consulted with the civil servants in my office. When media reports throughout April and May led us to understand what was going on, we had urgent questions: What exactly was the policy? What had DHS’s front-line agents in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) been told to do? How had the department assessed the risk that litigation would interfere with the policy? How was this justified in light of our treaty obligations toward refugees? And why was the department pushing out transparently misleading—or simply false—statistics to justify these steps? We were obliged, under the law that created our office, to register our objections that the administration was knowingly violating people’s rights.

The above excerpt was originally published in The Washington Post. Click here to view the full article.

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Scott Shuchart

Senior Fellow