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Ed Boards and Observers Condemn Trump Policy of Separating Parents from Children

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Americans Cannot Be Proud of Their Government’s Actions

Editorial boards and observers from across the country are condemning the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents in an attempt to deter asylum seekers. Below, find excerpts from recent columns and editorials highlighting why the Trump Administration’s policy is morally repugnant, against our shared values, and a violation of basic humanity: 

Syndicated Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, “America’s President is the Bully of Children”:

For Kelly and Trump, the defining characteristic of these migrants is their illegality, not their personhood or their dignity. This is the definition of dehumanization.

A few points. First, the debate over a border wall is a policy matter. The separation of children from their parents as a deterrent is a human rights abuse. And the Trump administration, at its highest levels, cannot tell the difference.

…if the deterrence of crime is the only standard we employ in immigration enforcement, what is the limiting principle? Why stop at the separation of families? Why not put able-bodied illegal immigrant children to work in salt mines? Why not plant land mines at the border? Why not strafe illegal immigrants from attack helicopters?

The answer, of course, is that America, by definition, has a higher standard than legality. Our country’s most basic commitment — and its limiting principle — is universal human rights and dignity. This does not prevent the government from enforcing reasonable immigration laws. It does forbid the government from inhumanity in the enforcement of immigration laws. And there is no definition of inhumanity that does not include the intentional separation of parents from their children. 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial, “Absent a Border Wall, Trump Opts to Punish Migrant Parents by Seizing Their Kids”:

Gone is any pretense that some children need to be separated for their own protection as potential victims of human traffickers. Sessions threw that notion out the window in his speech. He made clear he wants to terrorize immigrant parents by threatening to confiscate their children.

…The administration already has separated parents from children more than 700 times, including one case involving an 18-month-old child, according to a New York Times report last month. More than 100 seized children were under age 4.

Is this really serving any useful purpose? U.S. immigration authorities absolutely should be working night and day to keep dangerous criminals from crossing the border. But neither toddlers nor their parents even remotely fit that bill. This policy is simply cruel, motivated solely by mean-spirited politics, not security.

Salt Lake Tribune editorial, “Bigotry Against Immigrants Never Seems to End”:

The newest way to discourage undocumented immigration is the official policy, outlined by no less a personage than Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to hold adults caught crossing the border in facilities separate, perhaps many miles apart, from their accompanying children. That’s not border security. That’s child abuse.

…Like all those people who built that railroad, today’s immigrants are going to build the intellectual, physical and cultural infrastructure for the next generation of Americans. It is just a question of whether we will be, 149 years hence, ashamed of the way we treated them. Or proud.

Memphis Commercial Appeal op-ed from Kingsport, TN residents Charles and Betty Dotson, “ICE Cold Immigration Policies Separate Kids from Parents”:

…As Tennessee parents and grandparents, we must ask ourselves: do the ends justify the means? Is teaching a lesson worth wrenching weeping children away from their mother’s arms, and perhaps exposing them to a lifetime of hurt and trauma? What would we do if they were our children?

This is why we find the Trump administration’s decision to separate parents and children seeking refuge in the U.S. both unthinkable and disheartening. Not only does the policy punish parents for making the decision to seek safety and freedom for themselves and their children. It also dehumanizes immigrants and refugees, and falsely characterizes them as criminals seeking to take advantage of our nation’s goodwill. As Americans, it’s time for us to stand with families and stand against a policy that senselessly rips them apart. Tennessee is for families, and Americans should be, too.