Tag Archives: Kirstjen Nielsen

Family Separation, Final Report


family separation – COMPLETE REPORT


a slave auction

A woman, identified only as Maria, is reunited with her son Franco, 4, at the El Paso International Airport after being separated for one month when they crossed into the United States. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Roger W. Smith. “Family Separation, a Trump Administration Policy: Its Implementation, Development, and Aftermath, 2017-2022”

The complete reported in posted here, above, as a Word document. Its main sections are as follows:

Family Separation Under the Trump Administration: A Timeline

Family Separation: A Daily Diary

Anecdotal: Individual Accounts of Migrant Children and Parents Separated by the Trump Administration Since November 2017

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   November 2022; updated February 2023

family separation repost VII


Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy – Washington Post 4-10-2019


The following is a new addition to my family separation posts (downloadable Word document above):

Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy

By Salvador Rizzo

The Washington Post

April 10, 2019


It’s a very important piece of news analysis which encapsulates what was wrong with the Trump administration’s family policy and how deviously it was implemented and defended — as we see here, by Trump himself. Such deviousness and dissembling were characteristic in varying degrees of architects and defenders of the policy such as Stephen Miller and Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


— Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

family separation repost VI (Family Separation: A Daily Diary)


Family Separation – A Daily Diary

In my post “Family Separation: A Daily Diary” (downloadable Word document above), I provide a day to day account — from March 3, 2017 to March 30, 2020 — of how the Trump administration’s family separation policy, which was at first implemented secretly, was implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, became public, caused outrage, was supposedly rescinded, and was still carried on by various administration stratagems; and of the horrors of trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, which is a way of saying: reunite children who were not accounted for or kept track of by the administration with their parents.

The document is 186 pages long.


— Roger W. Smith

    July 2020

family separation repost IV (editorials against the Trump administration’s family separation policy)


editorials – family separation


The downloadable Word document posted here (above) comprises a daily compilation by me of editorials and letters to the editor expressing opposition to the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

The document posted here is 148 pages long.

It is sad to contemplate how the issue (outrage) of family separation as a strategy to deter immigration seems to have faded from public consciousness in the past months, and has faded almost completely since the pandemic began. While this is understandable, it would seem, the children who suffered trauma and the parents unendurable emotional pain will not easily recover.

Many, in fact the majority, of the editorials which commenced in March 2017, are eloquent and have a Zola-esque quality.


— Roger W. Smith

   May 2020

family separation repost I (comments and statements by politicians, public figures, and ordinary citizens)


statements, comments

See downloadable Word document above.


I realize that my post about the Trump administration’s family separation policy and its impact upon families and the children torn from their parents is not going to get many readers. It consists of several documents covering different aspects of the policy and its tragic — indeed horrible — consequences. Most of the documents are very long and detailed.

What I have done, in essence, is produce a documentary, which is well worth reading. Rather than provide an overview of family separation under the Trump administration, I have provided a daily account of the policy as it was implemented and evolved (with terrible consequences): its implementation (at first in secret) by the Trump administration; developments as opposition to family separation mounted; individual stories of the children torn from their parents; what religious leaders and human rights officials said; the flood of anti-child separation editorials from summer 2018 on. I dug this information out of sundry sources.

Here is my compilation of statements against child separation made by politicians, public figures, religious and community leaders, and ordinary citizens in various publications and venues, ranging from the halls of Congress to student newspapers and Facebook posts.


Roger W. Smith

   July 2020

Family Separation (Trump’s Policy and Its Consequences)


Family Separation – A Daily Diary

STORIES – family separation, etc

psychological and medical damage

human rights

editorials – family separation

statements, comments

religious leaders

Lomi Kriel

Susan Ferriss, ‘The Trump administration knew migrant children would suffer’

Leila Rafei, ‘Family Separation, Two Years After Ms. L’

Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy – Washington Post 4-10-2019


The downloadable Word files posted here (above) comprise a chronological report and overall view from March 2017 to March 2020 of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy towards migrants crossing the southwestern border; and, specifically, the separation of parents and children that was carried out by the government as the policy was implemented, first covertly and then with public knowledge, as the means of what the administration viewed as deterrence of illegal immigration.

Innumerable hours were spent collecting this information and piecing it together. The story of family separations seems to have temporarily receded in the public consciousness. History won’t forget it though. Neither have I. It represents an indelible stain on the Trump administration and on the policy’s architects, as well as a crime against humanity that tarnishes us as a nation.

— Roger W. Smith

  April 2020



My brothers and sisters were bid off first, and one by one, while my mother, paralyzed by grief, held me by the hand. Her turn came, and she was bought by Isaac Riley of Montgomery County. Then I was offered to the assembled purchasers. My mother, half distracted with the thought of parting forever from all her children, pushed through the crowd while the bidding for me was going on, to the spot where Riley was standing.

She fell at his feet and clung to his knees, entreating him in tones that a mother only could
command to buy her baby as well as herself. … I must have been then between 5 and 6 years old. I seem to see and hear my poor weeping mother now.

— Josiah Henson, a former slave, in his autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself


The Negroes at home are quite disconsolate but this will soon blow over. They may see their children again in time.

— Thomas Chaplin, a slave owner, in 1845, quoted in Help Me to Find My People by Heather Andrea Williams


My mother then turned to [her owner] and cried, ‘Oh, master, do not take me from my child!’ Without making any reply, he gave her two or three heavy blows on the shoulders with his raw hide, snatched me from her arms, handed me to my master, and seizing her by one arm, dragged her back. … The cries of my poor parent became more and more indistinct. … The horrors of that day sank deeply into my heart.

– Charles Ball, a fugitive slave, in his The Life and Adventures of Charles Ball (1837); Ball was separated from his mother at age 4


The black family “suffers little by separation.

— Thomas R. R. Cobb in his Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States (1858); Cobb was an American slave owner, lawyer, author, politician, and Confederate States Army officer



Open letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security:

The other night I heard you on the news say in reference to the death of Jakelin Caal Maquin that this was “a very sad example of the dangers of this journey.” Your callous disregard for the lives of the migrants massing at our southern border in hopes of entering this country prompts me to write this open letter to you.

On Sept. 6, 1620 my ancestors set out from England in a ship crammed with 102 passengers, livestock, supplies and crew and spent the next two months crossing the stormy seas living in crowded, filthy and unsanitary conditions. By the time they arrived and settled down in what would later become Plymouth, Massachusetts, only 53 of the original 102 had survived. More would die during the bitter winter and harsh conditions that awaited them. The experience and suffering of my ancestors on their perilous journey is deeply ingrained in my DNA. These ancestral memories cry out in empathy as I have watched the current wave of the migrants from Central America making their determined way north to our inhospitable borders, braving all kinds of dangers so that they might enter the promised land, the United States of America. These memories cry out in protest as I watch the way our government treats these new arrivals at the border.

Just who do you think you are? It is clear that you have no understanding of our history, why this country exists, and how that existence is justified. You have no clue about what a true American is or why people would choose to undergo danger and suffering in order to become one. Being a true American is not about gaining access to this land and then shutting the door on those who come after whom you happen not to like. Being a true American is about signing on to the unwritten mandate that requires us to work to build a more humane, more just, more loving society than what we are today and have been in the past. We are here to forward the principles of liberty, equality, and justice for all, including those who come knocking on our door asking to be let in, asking to be part of the great quest for these ideals, challenging those of us who came before to live up to them. This quest includes even or should I say especially those who were brought here against their will from Africa, but who now strive willingly to help all Americans achieve the dream.

Imagine the suffering of the Mayflower 102, the suffering of the Africans in chains in the holds of those ships, the suffering of Europeans who came later to escape famine, oppression, and death. Imagine the tribulations of the thousands who have walked here from Central America, in search of a better life, in search of the promised liberty, equality and justice that you and the people you work for are now denying them because they are “illegal.”

Were the Pilgrims “legal”? Are you saying they should not have come because they had no “legal” right to be here or because their journey was so dangerous? Of course they were “illegal.” They and those who came before and after took land that was not theirs to take and caused a great deal of suffering among the native people. Perhaps there is no justification for this “original sin.” But if there is any, it is this: that out of this original sin grew the ideals of our American constitution and the Bill of Rights. If we deny those rights and privileges to those who continue to come here and “take over our land,” then we lose all moral right to be here ourselves. Your words and actions reduce all of us and all our forebears to nothing more than land-grabbers and greedy me-firsters.

Jakelin Caal Maquin did not die on her arduous journey. She died while in your custody on American soil. How dare you put the blame on her father for attempting to further the American dream? You are not a true American, so why don’t you go back to your ancestral homeland, Denmark? True, the country is plagued with high taxes and the horrifying burden of free medical care and free university education. But at least you won’t have to face the prospects of drug-related violence, extreme poverty, and a government riddled with corruption that Jakelin’s father will face once you have repatriated him to Guatemala.

Kirstjen Nielsen, go back where you came. You are not a true American. The only true American in this sad story is Jakelin Caal Maquin. God rest her soul.

— Ella Rutledge, “True Americans don’t shut the door,” The Roanoke (VA) Times, December 26, 2018 (posted with permission of Ella Rutledge)



The following downloadable Word files (above) comprise this post:


Family Separation: A Daily Diary

by Roger W. Smith


Anecdotal: Individual Stories of Migrant Children and Parents Separated by the Trump Administration Since November 2017

by Roger W. Smith


Psychological Damage and Medical/Health Consequences of the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy; Press Coverage and Statements by Experts

compiled by Roger W. Smith


Human Rights and the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy

compiled by Roger W. Smith


Editorials re the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy

compiled by Roger W. Smith


Anti-Child Separation, Abolish Ice Comments and Statements by Politicians/Public Figures and Others

compiled by Roger W. Smith


Opposition by Religious Leaders, Churches, and Religious Individuals to the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy; News Stories and Commentary

compiled by Roger W. Smith


interview with Lomi Kriel, the Houston Chronicle reporter who broke the family separation story, The Center for Public Integrity, December 2019

“The Trump administration knew migrant children would suffer from family separations. The government ramped up the practice anyway.,” by Susan Ferriss, Center for Public Integrity, December 16, 2019


Leila Rafei, The American Civil Liberties Union, “Family Separation, Two Years After Ms. L,” February 26, 2020


“Trump digs in on false claim that he stopped Obama’s family separation policy,” By Salvador Rizzo , The Washington Post, April 10, 2019


posted by Roger W. Smith, Maspeth, NY

   April 2020; updated July 2020



SEE ALSO my post



washing their hands


When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

— Matthew 27:24, King James Version




“We are fixing family separation within this bill and have made changes to keep children with at least one of their parents.”



“Sadly, Democrats openly oppose simple fixes to federal law that would stop the illegal migrant crisis and end the magnet for unlawful migration,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.



“A big name of the game is deterrence,” Mr. Kelly, [then the homeland security secretary] now the chief of staff, told NPR in May. “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever — but the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States, and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.”



“Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, questioned Sunday whether some of the adult migrants who show up at the border with children are really their parents, citing human-trafficking concerns.”


STEPHEN MILLER [senior policy adviser to President Trump]

“No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement. It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.”



“My decision has been that anyone who breaks the law will be prosecuted,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in Senate testimony earlier this month. “If you’re a parent, or you’re a single person, or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution. You’ve broken U.S. law.”



“We have to understand a lot of these people that are crossing children are being trafficked here. They are being brought here by criminal groups that help guide them and often take advantage of them and brutalize them on the path toward the United States, and the ability to cross that border is a magnet that is drawing this behavior.”



“Our administration has had the same position since we started on Day 1 that we were going to enforce the law,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday. “We’re a country of law and order, and we’re enforcing the law and protecting our borders.”



“Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government. Because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”



“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

“If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them. We’ve got to get this message out. You’re not given immunity.”

“If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.”



“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.”



“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”



“HHS is legally required to provide care and shelter for all unaccompanied alien children referred by DHS, and works in close coordination with DHS on the security and safety of the children and community,” [HRS spokesman Kenneth] Wolfe said in a statement.

“The side effect of zero tolerance is that fewer people will come up illegally, and fewer minors would be put in danger,” said a third senior administration official. “What is more dangerous to a minor, the 4,000-mile journey to America or the short-term detention of their parents?”

“The president has told folks that in lieu of the laws being fixed, he wants to use the enforcement mechanisms that we have,” a White House official said. “The thinking in the building is to force people to the table.”


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   June 16, 2018

prevarication; institutionalized cruelty


Two news stories caught my eye this morning.


“This way madness lies”

by Dana Milbank

Washington Post

January 16, 2018





“Michigan Father Deported After Living in U.S. for 30 Years”

By Christina Caron

New York Times

January 16, 2018




Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank is a good and perceptive writer. He states:

I knew that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would deny that Trump said what the whole world knows he said: that he wants immigrants from Norway rather than from “shithole” countries in Africa.

Nielsen … was now under oath, and she wiggled every which way to excuse Trump without perjuring herself: “I did not hear that word used. … I don’t dispute that the president was using tough language.”

[Senator Patrick] Leahy moved on to Trump’s wish for more Norwegian immigrants. “Norway is a predominantly white country, isn’t it?” he asked, rhetorically.

“I actually do not know that, sir,” Nielsen replied. “But I imagine that is the case.”

Kirstjen Nielsen doesn’t know Norwegians are white?

Milbank goes on to say:

Now the federal government is hurtling toward a shutdown, entirely because of the president’s whim. Democrats and Republicans presented him last week with exactly the bipartisan deal he said he would sign — protecting the immigrant “dreamers” while also providing funding for his border security “wall” [italics added] — but Trump unexpectedly exploded with his racist attack and vulgar word.

That’s what brought to mind the second article, in The New York Times, and the whole topic of Trump’s wall.



Here’s what I would like to know.

Why is a “bipartisan deal” under consideration to provide funding for Trump’s wall? Have Democrats lost their spines or minds?

We don’t need it! As I explained in a previous post:


“Walt Whitman, immigration policy, and Donald Trump’s wall; or, the Berlin Wall redux”



It’s not in any sense just a matter of the wall being unnecessary or too expensive, or an eyesore. Or whatever. It’s bad policy and it smacks of Iron Curtain style statism verging on totalitarianism.

The Times article concerns Jorge Garcia, an immigrant from Mexico who has been living in the United States for a period of slightly less than thirty years. The basic facts: he is married to an American citizen; he and his wife have two children; he has no known criminal record and was employed (until a day or two ago) as a landscaper; he has cooperated over the years with immigration authorities. You can read the rest of the sad story and about the bureaucratic quagmire he got caught in over technicalities.

On Monday, immigration agents put Garcia on a flight to Mexico, with his wife and 15-year-old daughter (both in tears) and his 12-year-old son standing by and looking on. “We’re devastated. We’re sad, we’re depressed,” his wife, Cindy Garcia, said.



Here’s what I think, and I know I’m right.

Ours is a country of immigrants. We are all descended from immigrants. God knows how they got here and what they underwent (both emigrating and in making a life in The New Land).

To pursue and harry immigrants (regardless of their immigration status in the eyes of the law, which is at best imperfect) who are law abiding and hardworking and have done no harm – in fact, the opposite — is cruel and, in fact, unjust. It belies and betrays our foundational and civic principles. If the purpose is to prevent terrorists and malefactors from entering our country, what is the point behind expelling immigrants such as Mr. Garcia and “dreamers”?

You know what actions such as this particular one remind me of? When slaves, who were considered property, were sold away and separated from their families — spouse, parents, or children – by being sold to a different master.

We have so much to gain from immigrants, as I see every day in New York. If they were allowed to come, economic and other factors, such as possible overcrowding, allocation of social services, etc. would take care of themselves, naturally. Things reach their own level and will adjust themselves without government intervention. They always have.


— Roger W. Smith

   January 17, 2018




A quote from William Blake comes to mind: “He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars. General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer. … .”

— William Blake, “Jerusalem”


Looking at this from another angle — or from several — what Blake is saying is, don’t try to ameliorate the human condition by instituting policies designed to achieve this or to rectify some perceived flaw, say, in the law or policy, but pay attention to the effect of actions taken upon individuals. How does an initiative towards improving the human condition (or preventing adverse consequences, so deemed) affect them?

Or, better yet, don’t even think about generalities; think about the effect upon actual living, breathing people. If you’re harming them, it’s a certainty that you are doing no general or larger good.




My friend from high school days Jan Brady posted the following on Facebook on January 18:

QUOTE: “All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” [Khaalid] Walls [a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] said in a statement.”

Where is the rationale?

I’ve lost sight of the “Why”. What greater good is gained by this action?