Published on August 9, 2022, “An American Catastrophe” by Caitlin Dickerson details the 18 months she spent documenting the devastating impacts and outcomes of the Trump administration’s inhumane family separation policies, highlighting who is responsible for them and how they were enacted.
The Trump administration’s family separation policy started in 2017 with a pilot program to systematically separate children from their parents at the southern border of the United States. The administration expanded this pilot in 2018 under the so-called zero-tolerance policy, which directed the criminal prosecution of all individuals apprehended between ports of entry, including families seeking asylum from brutal violence and persecution. The American Academy of Pediatrics characterized the resulting family separations as “government-sanctioned child abuse.” Upon taking office, President Joe Biden quickly rescinded the zero-tolerance policy and established an interagency task force to identify children who were separated unjustly from their parents and reunite them with their families. However, hundreds of families were still separated years after the policy officially ended, given its chaotic execution. The Biden administration was left with the responsibility of fixing the terrible and enduring damage from these forcible separations. Please join the Center for American Progress for a conversation with Dickerson that will focus on the lasting devastation caused by the cruel zero-tolerance policy, what can be done to secure justice for the victims of this policy, and the need to ensure that U.S. border policies align with the country’s values.