Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > News

The White House Is Standing By Their ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy, Even If Border Patrol Isn’t

Border Patrol agents are no longer planning to enforce the White House’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, POLITICO reports, and it’s leading to tension with the White House and Justice Department.

This started when Kevin McAleenan, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, spoke to reporters on Monday and told them that Border Patrol agents were not—at least temporarily—referring cases of immigrants parents and children for criminal prosecution, according to the Associated Press.

McAleenan cited Trump’s executive order reversing the family separation policy as the reason and noted that the facilities where families are being detained simply aren’t large enough, implying that “zero tolerance” can’t exist when families are supposed to be kept together.

McAleenan told ABC News that “the main guidepost is the welfare of the child” in keeping families together, but also denied any alleged inhumane treatment or wrongdoing during the period of family separations.

According to POLITICO, the executive order has been a source of political tension since it was passed; the vague language in it made it difficult for Border Patrol to enforce it.

Despite McAleenan’s public statement, the White House seem to be sticking with zero tolerance and denying any change: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a briefing that the White House was “not changing the policy,” but added, “We’re simply out of resources. And at some point, Congress has to do what they were elected to do.”

It doesn’t look that’s going to happen, however, considering Congress delayed a vote on immigration reform just last week.

It’s unclear how much longer the White House will claim that the zero tolerance policy is in effect, as it becomes increasingly obvious their policies are not working as they hoped.

Erica Kam is the Life Editor at Her Campus. She oversees the life, career, and news verticals on the site, including academics, experience, high school, money, work, and Her20s coverage. Over her six years at Her Campus, Erica has served in various editorial roles on the national team, including as the previous Culture Editor and as an editorial intern. She has also interned at Bustle Digital Group, where she covered entertainment news for Bustle and Elite Daily. She graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Barnard College, where she was the senior editor of Columbia and Barnard’s Her Campus chapter and a deputy copy editor for The Columbia Spectator. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her dissecting K-pop music videos for easter eggs and rereading Jane Austen novels. She also loves exploring her home, the best city in the world — and if you think that's not NYC, she's willing to fight you on it.