Expert Voices

Family separation policies hurt U.S. global standing, leadership

An immigrant family resting while en route from Central America to the U.S. border
A family of Central American migrants from the caravan that arrived at the U.S.–Mexico border in May 2018. Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Trump administration last month announced it would systematically separate immigrant children from their parents at the border, reportedly to deter illegal immigration. This new policy poses risks to U.S. national security, weakens U.S. leadership in the world and undercuts American values.

Why it matters: Aiming to deter immigration through the suffering of children and families is inconsistent with the United States’ history and values. While purporting to hold Iran, Venezuela and Cuba to a high human rights bar, Trump is simultaneously surrendering leverage by violating these rights at home, opening up the U.S. to condemnation and accusations of hypocrisy.