Former first lady Laura Bush tore into the Trump administration for separating migrant families at the border, calling the “zero tolerance” policy “cruel” and “immoral.”
Bush penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, which was published Sunday night as public outcry over the hundreds of children in detention centers intensified.
“I live in a border state,” Bush wrote. “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.”
Bush’s commentary comes as more images and accounts from inside the detention centers have emerged, drawing harsh criticism from Democrats and some Republicans. Media reports about the centers described children being kept in “cages” after being separated from their parents, who crossed the border illegally.
Bush wrote that the detention centers were “eerily reminiscent” of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
“Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation,” she wrote. “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.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the so-called zero tolerance policy earlier this year, saying that the Justice Department would prosecute all adults crossing the border illegally, which could result in families being separated.
Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen defended the administration in a series of tweets on Sunday, claiming that the administration does not have a policy of separating families at the border.
President Trump has repeatedly blamed congressional Democrats for not acting on immigration. Other members of the administration, however, have defended the policy as a necessary border security measure.
In her op-ed, Bush called for “good people at all levels of government” to address the problem.
“In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis?” she wrote. “I, for one, believe we can.”