In an op-ed for The Washington Post, former First Lady Laura Bush slammed the Trump administration for its “zero-tolerance” policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The op-ed, published this Sunday evening, comes in the midst of a wide national outcry over the hundreds of children sitting in detention centers as a result of the policy.
“I live in a border state,” Bush wrote. “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.”
According to Bush, images and accounts from inside the detention centers are “eerily reminiscent” of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II — an event she called “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”
Bush also cited the trauma inflicted upon children who fall victim to these policies, pointing out that Japanese interned in U.S. camps were “two times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned.”
Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. 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.
The zero-tolerance policy was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year and warned that anyone crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted, which could result in families being separated.
As The Hill points out, Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen fired off a series of tweets claiming that the administration does not have a policy of separating families at the border. In an attempt to distribute blame for the practice, President Trump said Democrats have failed to act on immigration, a failure which he and other administration surrogates claim enabled the family separations.
In the op-ed, Bush called for “good people at all levels of government” to take action.
“In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis?” she wrote. “I, for one, believe we can.”
Read the op-ed in full here.
Featured image via screen grab/YouTube