Trump's 'Zero Tolerance' Policy Can Be A Political Winner For Republicans

It’s almost as if President Trump planned this whole blowup at the border himself.

Yes, there were stories about little kids being ripped from their mothers’ arms after being caught trying to sneak into the country. Yes, there was the Time magazine cover — a little shaky on the details of the photo but effective nonetheless at getting opponents of the president worked up.

And, yes, Trump apparently recognized the reality that having crying children on national TV on a loop was not a political winner and signed an executive order to stop family separations at the border.

But, despite media depictions, he did not capitulate on his “zero-tolerance” policy of seeking criminal prosecution for all those who try to sneak into the country, and he did not cost his party the 2018 midterms over this issue. In fact, he may have strengthened both.

Under current law, when illegal immigrants are put into criminal proceedings or through the adjudication of an asylum claim, the children are held separately. Adults who don’t make a claim of asylum generally are adjudicated and released within a day. Those who seek asylum must wait weeks or even months to learn their fate.

Families with children can stay together for up to 20 days. If it is longer than that, they must be separated because federal law and past court decisions do not allow children to be held in the same detention facilities as adults.

In the past, those who sought asylum were given an ankle monitoring bracelet and released into the mainland. But nearly 40 percent or more of them simply cut off the ankle bracelet and failed to show for their hearing. This was known to the public as “catch and release” and to the people who enforce immigration law as “catch and run.”

What Trump did was end “catch and release” and keep illegal immigrants out of the country until their asylum claims were assessed. He did not back down with his executive order, as media reports suggested. He put forth a temporary solution to battle the electoral optics, Congress is offering legislation to strengthen the EO, and the bill now being hatched may include a provision that could prove a game-changer.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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