6/27/2018, 9:53 a.m.
That’s the best word to describe President Trump’s inhumane policy of separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since April more than 2,300 children — from infants to teenagers — have been taken from their parents by federal border patrol officials. That’s when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Beauregard Sessions of Alabama announced the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of treating all people who cross the border illegally as criminals, including families fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the United States.
Treating the parents as criminals and jailing them allowed officials to take their children.
We were relieved on Wednesday when President Trump and administration officials bowed to public pressure to stop this abhorrent practice.
What lessons did we, as a nation, learn from the government-sanctioned cruelty inflicted on families during slavery when children were separated from their parents and sold into bondage, many of them never reunited?
Other comparisons have been made to the Nazis separating children from their parents as they locked Jews in death camps during World War II and Native American children being separated by authorities from their families in the 1890s and sent off to government- or church-sponsored boarding schools to be Americanized.
These episodes in our shared history are despicable, just as the Trump administration’s practice today.
In view of President Trump’s reversal, we call on lawmakers and other officials to remain vigilant and to verify that children are no longer being separated from their parents in a practice condemned by people around the globe, including scores of religious leaders and denominations, elected officials and others.
We also hope that families that have been separated can be reunited speedily and successfully. Government officials noted previously that they are unsure where many of the children have been placed. The question now becomes how and where migrant families will be reunited and live if parents are still considered criminals and under arrest.
The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics called family separation “government sanctioned child abuse” that may cause children irreparable harm with lifelong consequences. The United Nations’ top human rights official called it “unconscionable,” and called for the Trump administration to end the practice.
Clearly, this policy shows Americans and others that President Trump lacks any type of moral compass. Even now, he continues to lie, blaming others for this inhumanity, first saying it was the fault of Democrats who allowed “crippling loopholes” in the immigration law. Then he blamed Mexico for failing to stop migrants leaving or passing through that country. Then he blamed Congress for not acting to fix the flow of illegal immigrants who, he said, “pour into and infest our Country (sic).”
In truth, there is no law requiring migrant children to be separated from their families. Mr. Trump could have ended this disaster weeks ago by signing an executive order.
But make no mistake, this was a deliberate act on his part. Last year, former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly talked about splitting up families at the border as a way to deter Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Breaking up families was part of the Trump strategy to deter immigrants from crossing the border.