Family Separation Policy Starts Dividing Republicans; First Lady Bush Calls it “Immoral”


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Facing a rising tide of outrage from Democrats and some Republicans over the forced separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, President Donald Trump dug in Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats in the escalating political crisis.

Democrats have turned up the pressure over the policy, and some Republicans have joined the chorus of criticism. Former first lady Laura Bush has called the policy “cruel” and “immoral” while GOP Sen. Susan Collins expressed concern about it and a former adviser to Trump questioned using the policy to pressure Democrats on immigration legislation.

Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, tweeting: “Why don’t the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world’s worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refused Monday to apologize for enforcing immigration laws that result in the separation of children from their parents. Speaking at a meeting of the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans Monday, she rejected criticism accusing DHS of inhuman and immoral actions.

“We are doing none of those things. We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” she said, calling on Congress to reform immigration laws.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

Nielsen said that releasing parents with their children amounts to a “get out of jail free card” policy for those in the country illegally.

Trump asserted that children “are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth” as a way to enter the United States. He tweeted: “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border,” calling it “historic.”

The administration pushed back amid rising criticism from both sides of the political aisle. In a guest column for the Washington Post Sunday, Mrs. Bush made some of the strongest comments yet from a Republican.

“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,” she wrote. She compared it to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which she called “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

Underscoring the emotional tension, first lady Melania Trump, who has tended to stay out of contentious policy debates, waded into the issue. Her spokeswoman said that Mrs. Trump believes “we need to be a country that follows all laws,” but also one “that governs with heart.”

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.

The signs of splintering GOP support come after longtime Trump ally, the Rev. Franklin Graham, called the policy “disgraceful.” Several religious groups, including some conservative ones, have pushed to stop the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents.

Former Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci said Monday on CNN that it “doesn’t feel right” for the Trump administration to blame Democrats for separating parents and children at the southern border as a way of pressuring Democrats into negotiating on a Republican immigration bill.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said she favors tighter border security, but expressed deep concerns about the child separation policy.

“What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you,” she said. “That’s traumatizing to the children who are innocent victims, and it is contrary to our values in this country.”

Trump plans to meet with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss pending immigration legislation amid an election-season debate over one of his favorite issues. The House is expected to vote this week on a bill pushed by conservatives that may not have enough support to pass, and a compromise measure with key proposals supported by the president. The White House has said Trump would sign either of those.

This pressure is coming as some White House officials have tried to distance themselves from the policy. “Nobody likes” breaking up families and “seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” said presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway

Conway rejected the idea that Trump was using the kids as leverage to force Democrats to negotiate on immigration and his long-promised border wall, even after Trump tweeted Saturday: “Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!”

Asked whether the president was willing to end the policy, she said: “The president is ready to get meaningful immigration reform across the board.”

To Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the administration is “using the grief, the tears, the pain of these kids as mortar to build our wall. And it’s an effort to extort a bill to their liking in the Congress.”

Schiff said the practice was “deeply unethical” and that Republicans’ refusal to criticize Trump represented a “sad degeneration” of the GOP, which he said had become “the party of lies.”

The House proposals face broad opposition from Democrats, and even if a bill does pass, the closely divided Senate seems unlikely to go along.

Trump’s former chief strategist said Republicans would face steep consequences for pushing the compromise bill because it provides a path to citizenship for young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Steve Bannon argued that effort risked alienating Trump’s political base and contributing to election losses in November, when Republicans hope to preserve their congressional majorities.



  1. “U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.”

    Did Trump create this “protocol”or was there always such a “protocol”, as example, even under Obama?

  2. Just another liberal conspiracy , fuelled by MSM , to discredit Trump . These people being paid to do it . Guilty parties here are parents themselves and those paying them – neither of them could care at all about any children .
    Additionally , number of illegal aliens at the U.S.-Mexico border who are using minors to gain entry to the country has increased more than 300 percent since last year, White House officials say

  3. No Republicans favor family separation. This is more “fake news” from AP. Not only is the separation voluntary (the parents are free to take the kids and go home), but the administration position is that they have no choice since under existing law they can’t keep the family together while the parents are held for illegal entry, a law they have asked the Congress to change. The alternative is to say that an illegal immigrant who shows up at the border with a kid should be automatically allowed to enter which is a policy the administration (and most Americans) do not favor. Currently if the parents are locked up, they have to place the kids in an orphanage until the matter is resolved (a true separation policy would be to send them home without their parents).

  4. May be this is a good policy taking children away from irresponsible parents who risk lives of their children by illegally crossing US border. And how come we did not hear a word from Laura Bush when the same policy was implemented by Obama administration?

  5. Forget about right and wrong. Let’s just consider what portion of these kids – forcibly separated from their parents – are going to grow up to be burdens on US society as a result of their separation and detention? Will the separation and detention make them better adults? Worse adults? Or do we figure that we can detain them without their parents and not worry about the problems caused by the separation and detention because they will be Mexico’s problem when they get out of detention?

  6. Doesn’t this happen daily? Parents commit a crime and they go to jail and are separated from their children. That’s the way the system works. Nothing about this is new. There are lots of parents in jail…

  7. Don’t get me wrong… It’s very sad and unfortunate. But that’s the law, so don’t break the law and it won’t have to be sad and unfortunate.

  8. There’s no law mandating it. The policy is enforced at the discretion of the President, who has at various times made it clear that he regards it as something to discourage people from trying to cross illegally. Of course, on other days he tweets that it’s terrible and of course blames the Democrats for what he has himself ordered.

    I’m glad that some Republicans finally have remembered that they say they are the party of family values and are standing up to Mr. Trump.

    We really do need a bipartisan effort to rework the immigration laws. I really believe that Congress could develop something that would be effective and fair, if our Tweeter-in-Chief would remember that legislating is Congress’s job and he is basically intended to either sign or veto the laws they pass. Where is the outrage at “government by fiat” that we heard about for so long? Mr. Trump is carrying it to unheard-of heights. Take away his smartphone and make him run his pronouncements past his aides before they’re published. Then just maybe the Presidency will function as it’s supposed to.

  9. How come no one is going into these refuge orphanages to find out what kind of programs are being offered to these kids? Are they getting decent housing, healthy meals, schooling, recreation, and social activities? Can they visit their parents on weekends? Do they keep siblings together? Are these orphanages run by religious groups or state/federal social services? Can the children return to their countries and extended families (Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents), if they choose? Having known people who lived in orphanages post World War II, and later re-united with relatives or went on the marry, have their own children, etc., is proof that the context of their life has many more dimensions. Are the parents using the kids to gain citizenship, and why isn’t that immoral. The unfortunate reality that most countries don’t provide good opportunities to the disadvantaged, should be what the UN is focused on.

  10. CA – yes, it’s an old law, but how and how strictly it’s enforced is determined by whoever is President. Take away his smartphone and force him to let Congress do its job. Maybe then something will get done in this country.

  11. Midwest2, “Maybe then something will get done in this country”? looks like Trump’s smart phone is not a big distraction: 3.8% unemployment, 4% GDP, biggest satisfaction with the direction of the country since 2005, Rubashkin is free, US Embassy is Yerushalaim, Iran deal is dead, peace with N Korea is breaking out. It looks like his smartphone is helping him to Make America Great Again.

  12. CA – yes, it’s an old law, but how and how strictly it’s enforced is determined by whoever is President.

    My second part answers this

    2) Bill Clinton signed this law

    Why did he do it? Democrats don’t care for these kids