Source: NPR (Link)
This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. “The Secret History Of The U.S. Government’s Family-Separation Policy” is the cover story of the new issue of The Atlantic magazine. This investigative article was written by my guest, Caitlin Dickerson. The separation policy, called zero tolerance, was created during the Trump administration, mandating that parents across the southern border illegally with children be separated from their children until legal proceedings concluded and parents were either granted asylum or deported, which could take a very long time. During the Trump administration, over 5,000 children were separated from their parents with no records that would enable parents and children to be reunited. For a year and a half, Trump administration officials denied that family separation even existed. Then they said separation wasn’t the goal. It was just an unfortunate result of prosecuting parents who crossed the border illegally.
But Dickerson found that separating children wasn’t a side effect. She says it was the intent. She writes that instead of working to reunify families after parents were prosecuted, officials worked to keep them apart for longer. Her article, titled “We Need To Take Away Children,” is based on the year-and-a-half investigation she conducted, which included more than 150 interviews and reviewing thousands of pages of internal government documents, some of which were turned over to her after a multiyear lawsuit. During the Trump administration, she reported on the story as it unfolded for The New York Times, where she covered immigration. She’s now a staff writer for The Atlantic.