The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border was cruel, and it was cruel on purpose.

And while most of the families have been reunited, the administration continues along the same path, moved neither by court orders nor the clear inhumanity of their efforts.

Parents and children who arrived together at the border have said they were forced or tricked into signing away their rights, and separated without notice or any indication when they could see or talk to one another again.

The policy was put in place without any regard for how the children, some as young as toddlers, would be cared for, or how they would eventually be reunited with their parents. The young kids were then sent to facilities that were designed for teens, and which have a history of abuse and neglect. Their emotional or medical needs were ignored. Many children described bullying by guards, cold and barren cells, and bad food.

As a result of a court order against the administration, and despite the administration’s efforts at every step to ignore their responsibility for the crisis, more than 2,000 children have been returned to their parents.

As of the end of August, however, 497 children were still in federal custody, most because their parents have already been deported and the administration has yet to track them down.

Many of those children will be forever separated from their parents, and even those who have been reunited will suffer a lifetime of psychological problems brought on by the trauma, child experts warn.

For any American not blinded by partisanship or prejudice, it has been a moral failure that has few rivals in our country’s recent history.

And it is far from over.

There are now 12,800 migrant children in the 100 or so federally contracted shelters throughout the country, up from just 2,400 in May 2017.

They are mostly teens from Central America who arrived at the border unaccompanied by adults. They are prime candidates for gang recruitment in their home countries who are sent here to get away from a life surrounded by crime, violence and death.

The numbers have jumped not because more migrant children are entering the country — through all of Trump’s anti-migrant actions, that number has stayed about the same — but because fewer are being released to live with family here, as had usually been the case.

Fewer relatives are coming forward for a simple reason — many of them are also undocumented, and they rightly fear that contact with the authorities will result in their own deportation.

For the ones that do come forward, there is such a backlog that it could make months, even years, to resolve the case, keeping the teen behind bars the entire time.

The Trump administration could return to the old policy that prioritized releasing the children over immigration enforcement. They could put more resources into relieving the backlog.

Instead, administration officials wants to increase capacity for imprisoning migrant families and unaccompanied children, announcing they are tripling the size of a “tent city” so it can hold 3,800 children, tempting disaster.

They also want to be able to hold families indefinitely, past the 20 days now allowed by law.

And they want to eliminate state inspections for detainment facilities, taking away a crucial bit of oversight separate from the federal government.

President Donald Trump’s crackdown on migrants has not stopped people from coming to the border. It has not made the United States one bit more safe or wealthy.

But it has guaranteed that more children will be traumatized.

That’s a choice, and the Trump administration keeps choosing cruelty.

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