For some of President Trump’s supporters, his administration’s policy of separating children from their families when they illegally cross the U.S. border goes too far.
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all instances of illegal entry would be referred for criminal prosecution — part of a “zero tolerance” policy. According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families at the border between April 19 and May 31.
The White House has repeatedly, and falsely, blamed the “Democrats’ law” for the separations, and Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, has said that “nobody likes this policy.”
But the United States does not have a law on the books that requires undocumented children to be separated from parents who enter the country illegally. The separations are the result of the Trump administration’s decision to prosecute the adults as criminals, which requires the separations.
Conservative political pundit Bill O’Reilly, a close Trump ally, is among the administration’s critics. The former Fox News star shared an article about former first lady Laura Bush’s opposition to the policy and said the government should know how bad it looks.
“That kind of scenario is unacceptable to most Americans as exemplified by former First Lady Laura Bush’s withering criticism,” O’Reilly tweeted Monday.
The Trump administration will not win on this one and it should reverse course today.
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) June 18, 2018
Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of late influential preacher Billy Graham, also criticized the Trump administration about the issue. The younger Graham is close to Trump; he spoke at Trump’s inauguration and prayed that God would bless his administration.
“It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” Graham said last week on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “I blame the politicians for the last 20, 30 years that had allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today.”
During a Monday appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Trump’s favorite TV show, Alan Dershowitz — a conservative attorney who often defends Trump — made a direct appeal to the president to stop separating children from their parents.
“You have to end this policy of separating parents from children. Not because of the parents, but because of the children. It imposes a trauma on the children,” Dershowitz said. “It imposes a trauma on the children. It’s just unacceptable. It’s just not proper. There are other ways of doing this.”
Dershowitz suggested sending the parents and the children back to their country of origin instead.
“Mr. President, it just has to stop. There are better ways of doing this. You’re better than this. The American people are better than this,” he continued. “The American government is better than this, so I implore you to stop this now.”
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci also spoke out against Trump’s policy on CNN Monday morning, calling the separations “inhumane” and “cruel.” Regardless of how the U.S. wound up in this situation, he said, Trump should call the separations off.
“He’s got to step in there and he’s got to end this thing because I think it’s an atrocious policy. It’s inhumane. It’s offensive to the average American,” Scaramucci said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a sometime Trump critic, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Friday that despite the fact that Trump professes he is helplessness to decide the fates of these children, he has the power to stop the separations immediately.
“President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call,” Graham said. “I’ll go tell him: If you don’t like families being separated, you can tell DHS: ‘Stop doing it.'”
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