Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents 'breaks my heart'


The emotional debate over separating immigrant parents and their children at the nation's southern border is getting some strong comments from first ladies - past and present - who want the practice changed.

Laura Bush published an op-ed in the Washington Post on Father's Day calling family separations "immoral" and "cruel" while noting that more than 100 of the detained children are under the age of four. "It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw", the ProPublica report said. Eleanor Roosevelt actually contradicted her husband on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and on European refugees during the same war.

The reason for these separations is a zero-tolerance policy for their parents, who are accused of illegally crossing our borders.

The event in the city of Elizabeth on Sunday came as news stories highlighting the family separations intensified political pressure on the White House, even from some of President Donald Trump's fellow Republicans.

Former first lady Michelle Obama retweeted Bush's message Monday, adding, "Sometimes truth transcends party".

The children are held in government facilities, released to adult sponsors or placed in temporary foster care.

Through the end of May, nearly 2,000 children were separated from adults who said they were their parents or guardians, the department said last week.

Trump's former chief strategist said Republicans would face steep consequences for pushing the compromise bill because it provides a path to citizenship for young "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

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Former first lady Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, said Monday the situation at the southern USA border is "a moral and humanitarian crisis", and what is happening to families there is "horrific".

"I hate it. I hate the children being taken away".

Roughly 2,000 minors have been separated from their families over a six-week period ending in May, administration officials said last week.

It's likely that many of them have already been reunited with their parents, who served a few days in jail, but exact numbers are elusive.

Despite that, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway has rejected suggestions Mr Trump is using the children as leverage to force his opponents to enter negotiations on immigration and his long-promised border wall. "We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing", the Texas lawmaker said.

ProPublica said the audio features 6-year-old Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid who was separated from her mother last week at a border facility, as well as other children, border patrol agents and consular workers.

"I say it's very strongly the Democrats' fault", Trump said. Sessions has routinely defended his decision, saying that "if you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law".

Yet it's unclear whether Republican leadership would put a "clean" bill on the floor that blocks Trump from separating families, or would instead push for broader legislation.