Cruelty merged with incompetence when the U.S. government started ripping immigrant children from their parents. President Donald Trump changed the policy after it was widely denounced. Yet his administration still can't manage to get families back together.
Federal agencies appeared to be making it up as they went along Tuesday, the court-imposed deadline for reuniting children under age 5 with their parents.
And why not? The Trump administration launched its zero-tolerance border policy without any system for tracking children and parents, held hundreds of miles apart by different agencies of the federal government. Some parents already have been deported. Others are being treated as criminals though they are legally seeking asylum, a distinction lost on Trump,who seems to perceive a violent threat in all dark-skinned immigrants.
"Boggles my mind" is what Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, a Trump ally, said about the lack of progress in reunifying families, something he assumed "would have been a relatively simple matter."
"If they got a process, they're not revealing the process to me," Johnson of Wisconsin told CNN on Monday.
They don't have a process; they don't have a plan or even a database to aid in reuniting families.
Boggles the mind is right.
Almost 3,000 children have been forcibly separated from their parents at the border since May, including many seeking refuge from violence in Central America.
On June 20, Trump signed an executive order ending family separations, but the order is of scant help to families who can't find each other, parents held under unaffordable bonds or denied due process for asylum claims, and toddlers who are expected to represent themselves in deportation hearings.
Some administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have said family separations were meant to serve as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
But Trump has insisted that children should not be taken from their parents and blamed a "horrible law" enacted by Democrats for the family separations.
Yet on Tuesday, when asked about his administration's failure to meet the deadline for reuniting children under 5, Trump blamed the immigrants. He also again invoked MS-13, the violent gang from which some separated families were fleeing. “Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution."
Trump sounded proud of the incompetence and the cruelty.