June 25, 2018

Op-Ed: Trump shows true colors with immigration policy

Albuquerque Journal: June 24, 2018

I recently visited two facilities in Brownsville, Texas, where immigrant children are currently being detained. What I found there was heartbreaking. Among the thousands of children being held in Texas, I met Roger and Lea. Both babies are under a year old and were separated from their families over a month ago.

Let me be clear – President Trump caused this problem, and President Trump has not fixed it. The president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the decision to separate Roger and Lea from their families. And if the president truly believed that separating families is wrong, as he has repeatedly said, he could have made a single phone call to truly end this inhumane, immoral practice.

The president should visit detention facilities and meet children and families for himself. He should come in and see one of these little babies. Maybe hold one. Maybe he’ll feel something. Maybe it will help him make the right decision.

Unfortunately, Roger and Lea will not be going home to their families soon because the president has no plan for how to reunite them, or any of these children, with their families.

Over the past few weeks, we have heard stories of children ripped from their parents’ arms, mothers and fathers begging judges for updates on children they haven’t seen in weeks or even months, and distraught children being held in conditions that no child should have to endure. One father even took his own life rather than be separated from his children. The president can’t give that father back to his children or undo the trauma he has caused to thousands of children.

Attorney General Sessions and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have both cited scripture to justify their callous immigration policies. I look to a different part of the Bible, which tells us to love our neighbor: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

While the president’s actions have been appalling, we should not be surprised. Time and again, President Trump and his administration have made it clear that their goal is not to thoughtfully reform our broken immigration system but to demonize immigrants and deter them from seeking a better life in the United States. President Trump has denied asylum protections for victims of domestic abuse, implemented an anti-Muslim travel ban, cut refugee admissions to the lowest level in more than a decade, and ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

There was never a good reason for taking these children from their parents, just as there was not a good reason for stripping protections from Dreamers or barring Muslims from coming to the United States.

We cannot forget that America was founded by immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and future generations. As President Kennedy once said, “Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible.”

It is a betrayal of our founding principles to rip families apart, build walls and hide from the world. As a nation – as men and women of compassion – we must reject policies that divide us. Roger and Lea deserve better.

TO read this article on the Albuquerque Journal website, click here.