US President Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant parents and their children on the US border has evoked sharp criticism from his own wife, as well as a former first lady, who described the move to warehouse children in detention centres as “cruel” and “immoral.”
After Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and guardians and placed into holding facilities between April 19 and May 31 of this year, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The public outcry in the wake of images and stories of the children caught in the middle of Trump’s controversial immigration policy has sparked fierce debate in the US.
In a rare statement on a policy issue, Melania Trump, through her spokeswoman said she “hates to see children separated from their families”.
“She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart,” the communications director of the first lady Stephanie Grisham, said.
She added that the first lady, who herself is an immigrant (born in Slovenia), “hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform”.
Meanwhile, Laura Bush, wife of the former Republican President George W Bush, launched a rare attack on the policy of the current US President. “This zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” the 71-year-old former first lady wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.
“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,” according to her.
“These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in US history,” she wrote.
The Trump administration policy now charges every adult caught crossing the border illegally with federal crimes, as opposed to referring those with children mainly to immigration courts, as previous administrations did.
Because the government is charging the parents in the criminal justice system, children are separated from them, without a clear procedure for their reunification aside from hotlines the parents can call to try to track their children down.
(With inputs from Agencies)