Remember Mitt Romney's now infamous line about self-deportation in the 2012 GOP primary debates?
Everybody at the time thought it was hysterical. The notion of undocumented immigrants, many of them with citizen children and decent jobs, paying billions in taxes every year and contributing to America, choosing to leave the United States was frankly, silly. There's a reason why people came to America and risked their families to make the trip. They came here and stayed here.
In 2017, nobody's laughing anymore.
Women and children crossing together illegally into the United States could be separated by U.S. authorities under a proposal being considered by the Department of Homeland Security, according to three government officials.
Part of the reason for the proposal is to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children, said the officials, who have been briefed on the proposal.
The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would be put into protective custody with the Department of Health and Human Services, in the "least restrictive setting" until they can be taken into the care of a U.S. relative or state-sponsored guardian.
Currently, families contesting deportation or applying for asylum are generally released from detention quickly and allowed to remain in the United States until their cases are resolved. A federal appeals court ruling bars prolonged child detention.
President Donald Trump has called for ending "catch and release," in which migrants who cross illegally are freed to live in the United States while awaiting legal proceedings.
Two of the officials were briefed on the proposal at a Feb. 2 town hall for asylum officers by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum chief John Lafferty.
A third DHS official said the department is actively considering separating women from their children but has not made a decision.
HHS and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.
In a statement to Reuters, DHS said: "The journey north is a dangerous one with too many situations where children - brought by parents, relatives or smugglers - are often exploited, abused or may even lose their lives.
"With safety in mind, the Department of Homeland Security continually explores options that may discourage those from even beginning the journey," the statement said.
Splitting up families at the border. Splitting up families with ICE raids. Suddenly the new America is openly hostile to immigrants, legal or otherwise. And the best part? Trump doesn't even have to actually do this. The threat of doing it is enough. The point is to terrorize immigrants and make them want to leave before they lose everything, including their families and loved ones.
No wonder then that the rest of the world wants retaliation.
The European Parliament called on the EU executive on Thursday to force Americans to apply for visas before visiting Europe this summer, stepping up pressure to resolve a long-running transatlantic dispute on the issue.
The European Commission stressed it was pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the row, leaving it unlikely that it would act on the vote by lawmakers setting a May deadline to impose visas - a move that could hurt Europe's tourism sector.
Washington refuses to grant visa-free access to people from four east European states and Cyprus, while those from the other 23 member states can enter using the U.S. visa waiver program. EU rules call for equal treatment for all Union citizens.
Commission officials noted a planned EU-U.S. ministerial meeting on June 15 to try and resolve the issue, which has been running since 2014. The EU executive already allowed a deadline for a solution to pass nearly a year ago, without taking action.
We've gotten ourselves into a nationalism war with the rest of the planet, and it's going to get bad for Americans, really quickly.