Trump set to appear at a fundraiser for a creator of his ‘family separation’ policy

Since President Trump left office in 2021, his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida has became a regular staging ground for fundraising events supporting Republican candidates and causes.

This week, attendees will shell out up to $100,000 to support an organization aligned with the issue that appears to be the most animating for Republican voters: immigration and the border.

Trump is slated to appear at a fundraiser Thursday at Mar-a-Lago for the Border911 foundation, according to the organization’s website. The nonprofit was founded last year by Thomas Homan, a former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who helped implement and oversee the former president’s controversial “family separation policy” and remains a steadfast Trump supporter.

The policy led to the separation of about 5,000 children from adult family members who were detained for criminal prosecution under the Trump-era “zero tolerance” policy. A federal judge eventually blocked the separations, and some children have still not been reunited with their families.

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan appears at a community forum.

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan appears at a community forum.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Recent polling in battleground states shows Trump leading, and immigration appears to be part of the reason why.

Republicans see opportunity in President Biden’s unpopularity among voters over the border issue. Though Trump has been circumspect on whether he’d re-institute family separation, he spoke at a rally in Wisconsin this week about crimes allegedly committed by migrants, saying there had been “an invasion of our country.”

In a written statement, Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said “the millions of illegals Biden has resettled across America should not get comfortable because very soon they will be going home.”

“Immediately upon President Trump’s return to the Oval Office, he will restore all of his prior policies, implement brand new crackdowns that will send shockwaves to all the world’s criminal smugglers, and marshal every federal and state power necessary to institute the largest deportation operation in American history,” Leavitt said.

Immigration advocates and Biden supporters slammed Trump’s scheduled appearance alongside figures such as Homan, who they say presided over a uniquely cruel policy.

“They don’t talk about family separation but with this event, he’s saying it out loud, that he is for this type of cruelty,” said Beatriz Lopez, deputy director of the advocacy group Immigration Hub. “He will round up and deport people who are here and have been contributing to this country…. He will restore all the cruel policies of the past that most voters soundly rejected.”

They also bashed the presumptive Republican nominee’s views and rhetoric on the subject, saying they stoke fear among Americans and divide the country.

“Trump demonizes immigrants, calling them ‘animals’ and saying they are ‘poisoning the blood of the nation,’” said Biden campaign co-chair Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) in a written statement.

“He isn’t interested in real solutions to fix our broken immigration system — he’s focused on turning people against one another and stirring up hate because he believes it will help him politically.”

According to his campaign, Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants who lack legal status and limit these children’s access to passports and Social Security numbers. He also wants to issue an executive order dictating that children born in this country must have one parent who is an American citizen in order for them to also to become a citizen.

Homan and Border911 representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment. But their goal “is to educate Americans on the facts of border security and when America votes for our leadership, they will understand the devastation, the facts, the causes, and results, so they can make an informed decision,” according to the group’s website. Trump has stated repeatedly he’d like to find a job for Homan in his administration if he wins in November.

ABC News reported last month that the goal of the event would be to raise money to mount a tour of battleground states in advance of the November election.

Tickets for the event start at $1,200 and go up to $100,000. “VIP Tickets” include a “photo op with Border911 team and special guests,” according to the group’s website, which says the event is sold out.

Homan hosted a fundraiser in 2023 at Mar-a-Lago for an organization supporting people who had been arrested for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He spent most of his career in border enforcement and the Atlantic magazine described him as the “father” of the family separation policy. As of summer last year, researchers found that about 1,000 children still had not been reunited with their parents or family.

Homan, who campaigned with Trump during the primary, has defended the policy, saying it deterred people from coming across the border.

“I’m sick and tired hearing about the family separation,” the Hill newspaper reported Homan as saying last year at a conservative political event. “You know, I’m still being sued over that, so come get me. … Bottom line is, we enforced the law.”

“When I was a cop in New York and I arrested a father for domestic violence, or someone for [driving under the influence], I separated that family,” he added later. “When you violate the law with a child, you’re going to be separated.”

In December, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw approved a settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union and the federal government blocking for eight years the federal government from separating families for purposes of stymieing immigration. The same judge in 2018 had ordered an end to separations and demanded that children be reunited with their families.

The practice was “brutal, offensive and fails to comply with traditional notions of fair play and decency,” Sabraw wrote.

The federal government is still allowed to separate children but in very limited cases — such as if a parent poses a threat to kids or if the parent is convicted of serious crimes. The Times reported in December that families had been separated last year — long after Trump had left office — while being processed at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. This had more to do with the volume of people appearing at the border rather than a zero-tolerance policy, officials said.

Immigration advocates are not comforted by restrictions on blanket policies that would block the separation of children from their parents. Todd Schulte, president of the group, said Trump’s repeated disregard for the rule of law and stated desire to reduce the number of people coming across the border and deport individuals without legal status are cause for concern.

“That [ACLU] settlement is key, and it’s important. It’s absolutely the law,” Schulte told The Times. “But there are so many horrible things that President Trump and his team have promised to do. There’s every reason to ask, would they do this again?”

Original News Source Link – LA Times

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