Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: Trump’s EO on Family Separation is Not the Answer, Says Neera Tanden
Press Statement

STATEMENT: Trump’s EO on Family Separation is Not the Answer, Says Neera Tanden

Washington, D.C. — Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on family incarceration:

Family incarceration is not the answer to ending family separation, and moving children from one cage to another is an outrage. Instead of ending his “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting even those exercising their legal right to apply for asylum, President Trump is using this executive order to double down on his lie that Congress or the courts are “forcing” his administration to separate families. This is and has always been a policy choice of this administration. Rather than end it, Trump is taking advantage of the outrage over the inhumanity of his family separation policy to ramp up the mass incarceration of children and parents. Family incarceration is expensive—at roughly $320 per person per day—and emotionally and physically traumatizing to children. Instead of compromising American values, the administration could harness proven, cost-effective alternatives to detention—such as the Family Case Management Program, which President Trump ended last year—to ensure that children and families comply with their asylum and deportation proceedings, without the trauma that comes from throwing them in jail. This executive order does not excuse the president from ending its zero tolerance policy—the ball remains in Trump’s court.

The Immigration Policy team also put together a rapid response column explaining why President Trump cannot “fix” family separation—a policy that he has the ability to end immediately—by locking up children with their parents. Rather than either separation or incarceration, there are a host of viable and cost-effective alternatives to detention that ensure that families follow their asylum and/or deportation proceedings without traumatizing children.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Rafael J. Medina at or 202.478.5313.