The Trump administration’s border policy is causing quite the uproar.
The zero-tolerance approach prosecutes all adults illegally entering the country, even if they are traveling with children. This results in forcibly separating minors from those they are traveling with, whether they be parents, relatives, or friends.
Some who are against this strict policy claim it is akin to concentration camp-like cruelty. Still, others opposite of them shrug their shoulders at the prospect of separating a child from its parents and cynically mutter something like, “well, they should have stayed home.”
On Sunday night, in the midst of the ongoing conflict, former First Lady Laura Bush penned a heartfelt op-ed in The Washington Post.
In it she pleads for more compassion.
In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. More than 100 of these children are younger than 4 years old.
I live in a border state. 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.
We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place.
People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer.
Then she shared a story that should break everyone’s heart.
Recently, Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. She reported that while there were beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes, the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.
In 2018, 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.
The immigration system is a bloated, disorganized, out of control mess. It is necessary that we deal with illegal immigrants. However, as Mrs. Bush says, why can’t there be a different “more moral answer” to the situation? And anyone could – and should – agree that being instructed against comforting a detained child is heartless and immoral.
It remains to be seen whether anything will be done to expedite the prosecution of the illegal immigrant adults or even if the policy will be relaxed in an effort to keep family units together.
Right now, the Trump administration is seen as an unfeeling bully. If a reserved former first lady, mother, grandmother, and Republican feels the need to express her deep concerns over the treatment of immigrant children, you can bet that there is much damage control to do.