Former first lady Laura Bush expressed her disapproval for Trump administration policies that separate migrant children from their parents who enter the U.S. illegally and called for a “kinder, more compassionate and more moral” solution.
Bush blamed the government’s zero-tolerance policy that forces separation as parents are taken into custody, while children are detained in separate children shelters because they are not being charged with any crimes.
“I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” Bush said in an opinion piece she wrote for the Washington Post on Sunday.
Former president George W. Bush has long believed that immigration is essential to America’s growth as a nation and has advocated for open borders for trade and immigration during his presidency while simultaneously tightening border security. “We’re a nation of laws, and we must enforce our laws,” he said in a 2006 address to the nation that was televised. “We’re also a nation of immigrants, and we must uphold that tradition, which has strengthened our country in so many ways.”
President Donald Trump’s administration, which has tried to wrangle the issue of illegal immigration from Central America, announced Friday that between April 19 and May 31, nearly 2,000 children have been sent to mass detention centers or foster care facilities as their parents await prosecution, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso,” Laura Bush wrote. “Can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the zero-tolerance policy to a group of law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Thursday. He blamed migrant parents looking to enter the U.S. illegally for placing their child in situations where they could potentially be separated from their parents. “They are the ones who broke the law, they are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek. The United States, on the other hand, goes to extraordinary lengths to protect them while the parents go through a short detention period.”
The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement cares for these migrant children who are separated from their illegal parents, housing them in facilities that are quickly becoming over-capacity, according to Doris Meissner, the director of the U.S. immigration policy program at the Migration Policy Institute, in an interview with CNN.
Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement and admits that there were beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes, although shelter workers were instructed not to pick up or hold the children, according to Bush’s opinion piece.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won’t be,” the president said in a speech on Monday. Trump urged Democratic lawmakers to accept his reforms on immigration so he can end the separation policy. (RELATED: ‘Not On My Watch:’ Trump Pledges Not To Let US Become ‘Migrant Camp’)
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