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Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.)

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) appeared on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes" Thursday night to discuss a leaked document about the Trump administration's family separation policy. (Photo: MSNBC)

Leaked Memo Reveals Trump Administration's "Immoral" Plan to "Traumatize" Migrant Children

"It appears that they wanted to have it both ways—to separate children from their parents but deny them the full protections generally awarded to unaccompanied children."

Jessica Corbett

Following reports on Thursday that federal officials forcibly separated thousands more migrant children from their families than previously reported, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D.-Ore.) released a document to NBC News revealing the Trump administration intended to "traumatize children and intentionally create a humanitarian crisis at the border."

The December 2017 draft memo—which Merkley shared with NBC News after receiving it from a government whistleblower—shows that Trump administration officials wanted to deport children more quickly by denying them asylum hearings after taking them away from their parents.

"It appears that they wanted to have it both ways—to separate children from their parents but deny them the full protections generally awarded to unaccompanied children," concluded ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who led a class-action lawsuit on behalf of migrant parents.

President Donald Trump's "child immigration strategy is immoral and comes from a dark place in the heart of this administration," Merkley declared, responding to the revelations on Twitter. "Children are NOT expendable commodities in political battles."

The leaked document, as NBC reports,

also shows officials wanted to specifically target parents in migrant families for increased prosecutions, contradicting the administration's previous statements. In June, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the administration did "not have a policy of separating families at the border" but was simply enforcing existing law.

The authors noted that the "increase in prosecutions would be reported by the media and it would have a substantial deterrent effect."

The memo was shared with high-ranking members of DHS and the Justice Department before then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an ex-senator infamous for his anti-immigrant positions, officially unveiled the administration's cruel "zero tolerance" policy in the spring.

Merkley, a vocal critic of Trump's immigration policies, appeared on MSNBC's "All In With Chris Hayes" to discuss the developments:


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New Climate Study Predicting More Rain Than Snow in the Arctic 'Rings Alarm Bells'

"There are huge ramifications of these changes," said the lead researcher, "all of which have implications on wildlife populations and human livelihoods."

Jessica Corbett ·


Durbin Introduces Amendment to End 'Legacy of Cruelty' by Closing Guantánamo

"It's time at long last to face reality and... close the detention facility at Guantánamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all."

Brett Wilkins ·


As Executives Hike Prices, US Corporations Rake in Biggest Profits Since 1950

"Prices are high," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, "because corporations are raising them—so they can keep paying themselves with ever-larger executive bonuses and stock buybacks."

Jake Johnson ·



47 Groups Urge Congress to Avert 'Human Rights Failure' by Blocking Biden's Saudi Arms Sale

"The Biden administration in its very first weeks committed both to center human rights in foreign policy and to end U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen. Allowing this sale to stand breaks that commitment."

Brett Wilkins ·

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