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July 23, 2019

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Both aisles of Congress needed to put a stop to Trump’s cruel policies

President Donald Trump’s reversal on separation of families at the border was a relief only in the sense that children coming across the border will no longer be torn away from their parents.

It won’t stop them from being put in cages, perhaps even for indefinite periods of time. And as for the fate of the nearly 2,400 children who’ve already been separated, the order was silent.

So this order was nothing worth celebrating.

Of chief concern: Not only did Trump not end his administration’s “zero tolerance” prosecution policy for border crossers, but he directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to seek court approval to permit the government to detain families throughout the entire prosecution and deportation processes.

Summing up the practical effect of the order, Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said it “essentially jails families and would still keep innocent kids behind bars for an undetermined period of time.”

To our nation’s shame, Rosen was 100 percent right.

What’s next? Government internment camps where families would be locked away? A replay of the unconscionable treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II?

That’s not clear, nor has it been explained what will happen if Sessions doesn’t get court approval for detaining families together. Should the court refuse, the government would only be able to detain children for 20 days.

Meanwhile, the children who have been detained since the zero-tolerance policy went into effect in April continue to suffer in their isolation. They’ve been shipped to facilities as far away from the border as Topeka, Kan., and possibly beyond as the Office of Refugee Relocation locates and vets family members or friends of their families to care for them.

Trump said Thursday that his goal was to reunite the families, but he offered no details as to how that would happen.

So, as was the case when Trump issued his Muslim travel ban in January 2017, his hate-fueled immigration agenda has created massive confusion.

At this point, the only clear thing about the situation is that while Trump may have blinked, he hasn’t backed off in his attacks on immigrants.

That being the case, it’s critical for Congress to work toward creating responsible, humane immigration policy.

And that means both parties. The American people demand more from congressional Republicans than being Trump’s stooges, and demand more from congressional Democrats than complaining and obstructing.

The GOP deserves most of the blame for the current wheel-spinning and dysfunction in Congress, with many Republicans either too scared of Trump to work across the aisle or in lock step with his destructive ideology.

The House “compromise” bill, for instance, contains multiple hard-line reforms to both legal and illegal immigration, while offering weak advances for Dreamers. It is poisonous to Democrats, but in a sign of the depth of the division within the GOP, it also has been panned by ultraconservatives as providing amnesty. The fractures prompted House leadership to postpone a vote on the measure Friday.

But Democrats haven’t been without fault, either. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “You started it, you can fix it” comment to Trump may have been accurate, but it was caustically tone-deaf. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat problem — it’s a human crisis.

Americans demand leadership, not this ongoing partisan pie-fight.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., called Wednesday’s order a “positive first step,” but said legislative action was needed.

That’s right. But for that to happen, Heller and his counterparts first need to stop genuflecting to Trump and start doing what they were elected to do — solve problems.