Former first lady Michelle Obama is adding her voice to the rising chorus of criticism of the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the border.
On Twitter Monday, Michelle Obama re-tweeted a message from former first lady Laura Bush promoting a column Bush wrote decrying the policy. Obama added: “Sometimes truth transcends party.”
Laura Bush called the separation policy “cruel” and “immoral” in a guest column for The Washington Post Sunday.
“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. 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 U.S. history,” Bush wrote. “People on all sides agree that our immigration system isn’t working, but the injustice of zero tolerance is not the answer. I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.”
Another former first lady, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Monday called the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that has separated children from their parents at the southern U.S. border “a moral and humanitarian crisis.”
Speaking at an awards lunch for the Women’s Forum of New York, Clinton said what was happening to families at the U.S.-Mexico border is “horrific.”
“Every human being with a sense of compassion and decency should be outraged,” Clinton said.
The separations stem from a policy that turns all cases of people trying to enter the country illegally over for criminal prosecution. Children are not detained with their parents when those parents are facing a criminal charge, as per U.S. protocol.
President Donald Trump has defended the policy, which has taken nearly 2,000 immigrant children away from their parents.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he added. “Not on my watch,” Trump said Monday.
Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, said she had warned during the campaign that Trump’s hard-line immigration stance would result in family separations.
“Now as we watch with broken hearts, that’s exactly what’s happening,” she said.
The policy has come under increasingly strong criticism, with accounts of children kept in cages and parents not knowing where their children are.
“The test of any nation is how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” Clinton said. “We are a better country than one that tears families apart.”
First lady Melania Trump “hates” to see families separated at the border and hopes “both sides of the aisle” can reform the nation’s immigration laws, according to a statement from her office.
Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, said Sunday: “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.” She said Mrs. Trump hopes both sides “can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.”
While the statement suggested the matter was an issue for Congress, Democratic lawmakers and others have pointed out that no law mandates the separation of children and parents at the border. A new Trump administration policy, which went into effect in May, sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally. More adults were being jailed as a result, which led to their children being separated from them.