First Lady Laura Bush has a very powerful op-ed against the President’s family separation policy in today’s Washington Post.
On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents. In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care. More than 100 of these children are younger than 4 years old. The reason for these separations is a zero-tolerance policy for their parents, who are accused of illegally crossing our borders.
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.
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. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; interned Japanese have been 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.
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.
Recently, Colleen Kraft, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics, visited a shelter run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. She reported that while there were beds, toys, crayons, a playground and diaper changes, the people working at the shelter had been instructed not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them. Imagine not being able to pick up a child who is not yet out of diapers.
Twenty-nine years ago, my mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, visited Grandma’s House, a home for children with HIV/AIDS in Washington. Back then, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the disease was a death sentence, and most babies born with it were considered “untouchables.” During her visit, Barbara — who was the first lady at the time — picked up a fussy, dying baby named Donovan and snuggled him against her shoulder to soothe him. My mother-in-law never viewed her embrace of that fragile child as courageous. She simply saw it as the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind and even cruel. She, who after the death of her 3-year-old daughter knew what it was to lose a child, believed that every child is deserving of human kindness, compassion and love.
In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.
It is important to remember that the US is a signatory to both the 1961 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 New York Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, as well as the US-Canada Agreement Covering Third-Country Asylum Claims at the Border of 2002 and the Refugee Act (Immigration and Naturalization Act) of 1980. All of these have the force of US law within the United States.
There also is the INA Act of 1980.
And, dear God, Adam, can we stay away from my law review article?
Lady, you are going to heaven.
I’d missed it on the first reading, but I appreciate that she says:
That definitely separates it from Melania (or her press people) getting credit for basically dressing up Trump’s lie in nicer language (essentially, “Congress needs to fix it.”)
It’s not enough, but it’s more than nothing. (That could be the motto of the never-Trump crowd.)
Adam L Silverman
@Omnes Omnibus: Thanks, knew I forgot one!
Thanks for posting the letter
Good grief, I find myself moved by something Laura Bush said. This is the end of times.
Good for Mrs. Bush. Very well written and thought out. Too bad the Republicans who actually have the power to do something won’t, and Trumpistas will call her a RINO. It’ll be interesting to see if the president tweets about her. He’s still mostly bleating about the IG report, which came and went in a flash as news. We’re lucky he’s so incompetent, but it might just be giving the next demagogue lessons in how to do it.
Not a Bush fan but this lady is on the right side of this very important issue. Good for her.
@Adam L Silverman: I do what I can.
Conway, Bannon, Sessions, Miller and Kelly- and of course Trump:
It’s so great that so many of the low quality Trump hires are on record as supporting this. They genuinely did not know that decent people would find this repugnant, or they would have started lying days ago.
All these sophisticated big shots looked at this policy, reviewed it, argued over it for months and not a one of them saw anything wrong with it UNTIL there was public outcry. THAT’S how nasty they are. They need to be told this is cruel. It would never occur to them without outside criticism.
I’m seeing several hard core right wingers come totally unglued about this on my feed. They are hitting a higher and higher level of cognitive dissonance on this than anything else so far. There’s a shit ton of “Whatoubitism” going on. Usually trying to conflate the treatment of unaccompanied minors and the face ICE screwed up and placed some kids with an abusive parent back when Obama was president. I don’t know if it’s changing votes, but they are feeling it… they know they aren’t good people.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
I’m thinking that The Hague Convention has some applicability here, but am not conversant enough to pick it apart on anything other than a case by case basis.
Also, I think there’s a strong case to be made for local child welfare authorities to step in with state court orders, backed up by state police forces (National Guard, if need be). That gets no play in a place like Texas, but California, New York, New Jersey could really set forth confrontations, particularly at contract run facilities.
The trick is to move bold, move fast, and not do the namby pamby notice and delay game.
Treat them like the abused kids they are, swoop in.
Jeff Flake and Susan Collins have progressed from furrowing their brows enough to write a letter to Secretary Nielsen:
You can see the letter at the link, but it wouldn’t let me copy and paste from it. They politely almost call her a liar, saying that she testified before the Senate that immigrant families seeking asylum would not be split up, but these many newspaper reports are saying they have been. They want copies of her written policies about all this.
Susie smells the way the wind blows.
Adam L Silverman
@Kay: It’s a civil misdemeanor. Conway should have her law degree revoked.
Sigh. Yes, of course its been a criime to enter the country legally. But separating parents from children and incarcerating them in tent cities, thats all on Trump and his ilk. Can we please make the distinction?
Adam L Silverman
@Mary G: Here you go:
They should worry that the people Donald Trump hired had a month’s long discussion where the question was “should we rip children away from their parents and put them in cages?” and every single one of them either said yes or went along with it.
Because you don’t know what people like that will do. Anything. They require constant supervision because they lack ordinary character and decency- they don’t have it to draw on. It has to come from without- from a rule or a law or public shaming. It isn’t in them.
@Adam L Silverman: Thank you.
@Mary G: I don’t think he’ll tweet about Laura Bush. He may attack W. and certainly will say it was always an Obama era policy, but he won’t attack her.
But who’s going to protect the kids from US?
How do these people sleep at night? Oh sorry they’re vampires sucking the blood from our democracy and humanity, so sleeping at night is not a problem.
Trump started lying about it at least a week ago. Either his low quality hires didn’t pick up on that or they’re such true believers that they can’t change their rhetoric now.
Laura Bush has always seemed a profoundly decent person. This completely reaffirms that opinion.
@Adam L Silverman:
It’s appalling how they keep reciting their supposed religious qualifications, as if saying “I’m a Catholic” or “I’m a Methodist” is some kind of defense for their actions? It’s bizarre.
Sessions is the worst in my view because he;s the AG. Ugh. Just morally and ethically bankrupt. No inner compass at all. He requires supervision, some outside mechanism to make up for what he lacks inside.
@Adam L Silverman: @Kay:
It certainly sounds like another example of the big problem we have with white collar crime in this country, like Kay keeps pointing out. We need to get tough on white collar crime!
It’s true. Trump knew he had to start lying. He watches more tv than the rest of them.
@Yarrow: He’s certainly stayed away from Michelle Obama. But at some point I think he’s going to crack from the pressure and really start flinging poo everywhere and anywhere. There is so much news coming out about everything that I don’t think he’ll be able to handle it. India has announced retaliatory tariffs on American goods as well now.
Color me underwhelmed. Writing an editorial is easy enough; of course she wasn’t going to have any trouble getting it published. I’d like to see Laura Bush do more than that before I heap praise on her.
My grandson is an immigration lawyer in El Paso. His wife is Mexican (US citizen). His sons definitely look Latino. I am worried sick about them all. It’s become very, very personal for me.
@Redshift: They keep harping on Congress because that is the only avenue for doing what they really want on immigration. Melania is just furthering the lies. This was a voluntary policy adopted by Trump. You can detain or deport people without separating them from their children.
Something to keep in mind: public shaming doesn’t work on narcissists. It actually makes them double down on the behavior that you tried to shame them about, because their entire drive is to deny/avoid the core of shame at their center.
So it has to be prison for the lot of them. It’s the only way they’ll learn, though the only thing they’ll learn is not to get caught doing the bad thing again.
@Wag: She is a librarian.
What has done is make it impossible for anyone to ask for asylum legally by closing the boarders so they are left with little choice but to attempt crossing and ask or not attempt and be in worse shape. And that crossing appears to not be a felony but it’s being treated like one.
I watched a couple of YTubes, a BBC show about people trying to enter illegally on airplanes or hiding in trucks in Calais, France. Was interesting that the BP were quite polite 99% of the time and even when they couldn’t be they weren’t dicks about the whole process. Now the agents were on TV so that may have changed this a bit but I didn’t get that impression. Compared to how I’ve been treated by our BP on my returns to the US, I’m amazed. Or the air nazis on just traveling within our borders.
Adam L Silverman
@Kay: Invocations and verbal virtue signaling.
@Kay: Yes, they did. and you will get no argument from me on that. This current situation is on the more mild side of what I expected from Trump and company a year and a half ago. But too many of them still think it’s 1990 or 2000 when they could have it both ways, when all you had to be is not Bob Ewell and then you could think of yourself as saintly and “Not a Racist” It was bull shit back then as well of course, but now the mask is off and we all get to see squirming ugly thing underneath. That’s why this stings so much for them.
@Adam L Silverman:
That’s not possible — online conservatives keep telling me that “virtue signaling” is something that only liberals do. Sessions must be acting out of his strong religious belief that ripping infants from their mothers’ arms is what Jesus would do when faced with a group of refugees.
Yep, me as well. I trust her about as far as I can throw her, which at my age isn’t far. At all.
Adam L Silverman
@Mnemosyne: Jesus was a refugee.
As long as their sentences are long enough that they die in prison then for me it doesn’t matter if they learn anything.
1. Found guilty.
2. Prison term long enough for them to die there.
3. Success. Or a word they might understand, Profit!
@Ohio Mom: You don’t have to heap praise on her. The value of the editorial is to galvanize support for changing the policy. “Even Laura Bush recognizes . . .”
? ?? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ? ?
Remind me. What’s virtue signaling again?
@Mary G: It’s going to get really ugly before it’s over, that’s for sure.
@Adam L Silverman:
I also don’t get why they all have to call up their own children as this bizarre defense for their cruelty. Conaway does it constantly.
They should stop using their children as a shield. Having one or two or four or ZERO doesn’t mean anything as far as how you treat other people’s children. It never has. Millions of people have no children at all and would refuse to rip children from their parents even if ordered to do so. It just doesn’t mean anything as far as character or decency. People don’t get their empathy for children from having their own. They get it because everyone was a child. Everyone.
I’ve seen this point made twice now.
@Kay: The republicans have shot their foot with an RPG on this. Child abuse. Who knew. Bunch of evil idiots deserve punishment. Manafort’s in jail, keep the line moving Lady Justice.
mike in dc
Dubya could/should visit a detention center, then make a public speech in front of one. It might make a difference for some people.
Oh, sure. They’re really obviously trying the play where they have a bill full of poison pills and the one thing Democrats are calling for, and they insist Democrats are to blame because they won’t vote for it. Fortunately, that bit of dishonesty seems to be getting overwhelmed by the widespread horror about the policy, and the reality that Trump and Sessions started this, and they could stop it at any moment.
I’ve never been so worried about the future of American democracy, not even during the Watergate scandal. We have an entire political party that has become a cult of personality and we have a subset of Trump’s supporters who revel in the idea of violence and are egged on my their hero. We have a government agency (ICE) which is out of control. (Brownshirts, anyone?) Our police are militarized and too many are perfectly happy with using excessive force, especially against the blacks and browns. We have a lot of heavily armed people and, folks, they are not liberal-minded. We are sitting on a powder keg.
Called both of them. They should be called out as phonies
Guantanamo was the precedent for all this “We can incarcerate anyone any way we want to Geneva Conventions and international law be damned” mentality. Where was Mrs. Bush’s letter then?
@Adam L Silverman: Or, as Bono put it in a recent U2 song, “American Soul” (a critic referred to it as worthy of David Brent from the Office), “For refugees like you and me/a country to receive us/will you be our sanctuary/Refu-Jesus”.
@Barbara: And recognize that by tradition former US presidents refrain from commenting on their successors’ policies (there are good reasons for that in general), so she is pretty much speaking for Dubya.
Adam L Silverman
@Kay: I have a pair of lab mixes and I would make the Avengers: Age of Ultron scene of the Hulk going on a rampage in Johannesburg look like a kid’s party with cupcakes, ice cream, a pinata, and a pony ride if someone tried to take them away from me. What is being done, as you know, is wrong. Flat stop, Do not pass go.
Adam L Silverman
@Cheryl Rofer: Since Kayyem was a senior counsel and Deputy Assistant Secretary at DHS, she would know.
@? ?? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ? ?:
Here’s a pretty short op-ed explaining it.
Short real-life example: all of the morons who insist that nobody really liked The Last Jedi because they themselves hated it, so therefore anyone who said they liked it was “virtue signaling” by pretending to like a terrible movie just because it had a bunch of women and minorities starring in it.
TS (the original)
I keep wondering how the media would react if Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton said this – whatever is said, the media pushes the republican stories.
@Cheryl Rofer: I’ve seen it twice now as well. Seems like a good point. Wonder if the Border Patrol union will take notice.
Good point. Do remember though that her husband was president at the time and asking her to do that then was very probably a no go. Besides most of those people were not children so even thinking that she might have thought that Gitmo was an issue is probably beyond the pale. It also was 16 years ago that the detention center was formed. Just for the record I’ve been to Gitmo in the early 70s while in the navy.
@Adam L Silverman: @Yarrow: The fight over culpability is going to get ugly. But that will be later.
“[T]his zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”
Every Democrat in Congress could stand to quote this woman tomorrow from the floor of the House. Flood c-span with images of liberals quoting the former first lady, who has the g-d damned guts to say that this is cruel and immoral. She’s completely correct here.
The cynicism is breathtaking. They needed leverage for their garbage immigration bill so they took 2000 children hostage.
Just horrible people. Melania actually mentioned the hostage-taking in her bullshit statement, making it clear one was a trade for the other. She’s a nightmare too- now we see that.
@Kay: Cynicism presumes too much forethought.
Trump fundamentally does not believe anyone not named Donald Trump is fully human, and Miller has no soul. Their only interest is in cruelty for cruelty’s sake. I wouldn’t put it past them to order the children killed when they figure out this policy won’t make America white again.
@Kay: Well, and Paulie Boy our illustrious Speaker is quite proud of his Catholicism. Too bad the Bishops have said this policy is a serious no-no. Ryan will just ignore this, as he does the teachings about the poor and so on.
I’ve started reading an article about how the Southern Baptists are pulling back from their support of the GOP. The younger generation is going to flat out flee the tradition if they don’t stop, and there’s been a major leadership shift recently. The Catholic system of course will respond much more slowly. But I can hold some hope that the debacle at least gets them to wonder a bit about all the GOP (empty) rhetoric about pro-family this, and even the elevation of abortion (and thus being vacuum sealed to Republican platforms and issue-pounding) as the sine qua non. The current pope may help with some of the shift in tone and tenor that would need to happen in the American Catholic scene.
One thing that pisses me off is Democrat’s shitty messaging. The hashtag they apparently agreed upon? #reunitethefamilies
Really? Jesus, what a snooze slogan
How about #Liberatethechildren or #wherearethebabies ??
This is a unique chance. Thow these morherfuckers an anvil of righteous anger! I wish Beto had the balls to do the most Texan thing imaginable: assembe a POSSE and free those kids
@Kay: She always was. Melania is on record as a birther.
As I was just saying in the thread below, it would be quite easy for the Catholic bishops (or even just a local archbishop/cardinal) to announce that John Kelly or Paul Ryan will not be given Communion until they publicly confess to their error and repent.
The big difference between the RCC and the SBC is that immigrants are the backbone of the RCC, particularly immigrants from Latin America. If they stopped coming to Mass, the RCC in America would be completely fucked.
The Bishops have fired a warning shot at John Kelly. Let’s see if they follow through when he defies them.
Really? Babies are being torn out of their mothers’ arms by Republicans and you’re pissed at the Democrats?
Democrats are leading marches and demanding to be let into the facilities and you’re pissed at them?
You need to get your priorities straight. I know it’s easy and fun to get mad at the Democrats because that’s where you’ve been taught to focus your anger, but they’re not actually the ones at fault here. Focus.
I’m not against Laura Bush doing the OpEd, in fact I appreciate it. But outside of people who are already against this policy, who cares what Laura Bush has to say? Trump supporters think Bush was a pussweed. She needs to stick a needle in her husband’s ass and get him to say something definitive, like “This is just plain wrong!” and then let him go back to painting.
They are awful people?
I actually think W has to be a partner in that editorial and it seems pretty well calculated. They both have a bigger soapbox than we do and have responsibility along with privilege. I think Laura Bush has a lot of hands off respect from “respectable” republican’s similar to Michelle Obama’s with us. If Trump attacks her back, he could really damage his standing with more of “his” voters than almost anyone I can think of. W resisted quite a bit of xenophobia and bucked his own party trying to get real immigration reform. He also gave AIDS assistance to Africa when it was already clear his own party didn’t care. He didn’t have the same flaws as Trump and this particular policy I think both Bushes would fight.
Democrats already hate Trump but America needs to have a larger number of Republican voters hate him and his kind of republican. Studies I think show, that tribalism means they will listen to their own but not us. In fact I have suspected that is why a few like maybe Jen Rubin haven’t ever said they are changing parties.
? ?? Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) ? ?
But how would this make Trump supporters think he isn’t a pussweed? How is it any different than what Laura Bush said?
Especially since the United Methodist Church is 110% opposed to this shit. I attend a very liberal UMC church (the three pastors: a man who took his wife’s last name when they married, a gay man, and a single mother), and they wasted absolutely no time in condemning this. There was also a great statement from the UMC today calling Sessions out.
Laura Bush voted for HRC, as I recall. She’s okay. By no means perfect or even on my side of the issues most of the time, but I don’t doubt her basic okayness as a person. That is more than I can say for some in the GOP right now.
@Yarrow: The CBP union is the same as mine, NTEU. I’m waiting for our president to start making some damn noise here because having members follow an illegal policy is VERY bad juju. But I haven’t heard anything coming down the pike yet.
Yo! Would you mind not making assumptions about the direction of my anger? Because I carry a righteous fire in my belly and I’ve been in every Trumpsters face the past few days.
What I am saying is that we need an emotionally captivating slogan. Hit these motherfucking monsters over the head with it. Does “Reunite the Families” evoke an overwhelming emotional response in you? Or is “Safe the Children”, Liberate the Children”, “Where are the Babies” more gutwrenching? Because if it is, that’s what we need. You create the emotion first and tie the opponent to the business end of it. Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich and fucking Donald Trump always knew this and mastered this. Our side releases cringeworthy powerpointesque slogans created by committee. Fuck this shit.
@Sebastian: That would be insane. It would instantly cost him the election.
Maybe? Or win him the Presidency.
@James Powell: well, let’s alll give up. None of them cares what we think either.
Hardcorer-than-thou Berniebro Twitter has finally found something that upsets them about all this child-snatching: it’s that the liberals are approvingly quoting Laura Bush.
@Raoul: “an article about how the Southern Baptists are pulling back from their support of the GOP. ”
I’ll believe that when I see it. You’d have to pry leadership from the cold dead hands of the SBC senior council … fundagelicals have no qualms at all about vicious infighting when their lock on power is threatened. Stephen Miller is a choirboy compared to them.
The only way I wanna hear Laura Bush whinge about how laws must be enforced is if she’s a Wal-Mart greeter whose husband is in Leavenworth and whose property was all taken by RICO forfeiture.
Jack the Second
Is Laura Bush the first prominent Republican to speak out against this policy?
On a certain level, I’ll take what I can get from prominent Republicans. Having a Laura Bush condemn the policy bumps up the pressure on the Administration, which is good, even if I’d like her to do more. It’s the same with the Flake/Collins letter to Nielsen – I want them to co-sponsor the Feinstein bill, but in the meantime baby steps are better than nothing.
@evodevo: From what I’ve read, that’s what has happened. Patterson and Pressler are out after decades of moving the Baptist hard-right. Southern Baptists are still going to be conservative, of course. But they may start to get the (accurate, IMO) message that being indistinguishable from GOP politicians is bad. Bad theologically, and bad in terms of having and using available power when the GOP does things — like ripping families apart — that they oppose.
If Repub pols think SBCers will vote for them anyway over gays and abortion, they won’t care about moves to oppose ICE immorality.
Imagine if the Sebastians in our midst took their passionate energy and their oft-stated desires for improvement and used them – to choose just one example – to help high school students register new voters? It would be awesome. I want to hear what they find to do in their communities, so I can cheer them on to do more.
@Ruckus: Uhh…precisely. Her husband was the president. You’d think she’d have some influence there if not in the form of a letter then some more private pressure. We can’t rightly slag the Trump women for being situationally compassionate and give Laura Bush a pass. She was apparently, for all she let on, okay with the atrocities her husband agreed to perpetrate.