To all Republican elected officials: As members of the party whose leader occupies the White House, you have influence that members of the opposition party do not. I am urging you to speak out against President Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from parents who are entering the country illegally.
Of course it’s not your job to be a watchdog for your party, nor should you be held accountable for all of its policies. But these are extraordinary times. The Republican Party counts more than 4,000 state legislators, 33 governors and countless mayors and members of town councils in its ranks. If you all rose in unison to oppose the policy, if each of you used contacts you have with Republican members of Congress and the Trump administration, I’m confident you could bring an end to the forced separation of children from their parents.
The International Rescue Committee calls forced separation “a policy of willing cruelty.” Former First Lady Laura Bush calls it “immoral.” Another former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, added her voice saying the practice is “a shame to our country.”
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the top human rights official at the U.N., calls the practice “abusive” and “unconscionable.” Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the policy “amounts to child abuse” and explained how it is creating irreparable physical and psychological harm to the victims.
Some members of your party are putting humanity over partisan politics. Sen. John McCain characterizes the policy as “an affront to the decency of the American people.” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., calls it an “ugly and inhumane practice.” Both have called for ending the policy. I’m sure they would welcome more GOP party members standing up to the President’s moral bankruptcy.
The policy is so reprehensible President Trump won’t even own up to being responsible for it, instead blaming Democrats and claiming the practice can only be ended by Congressional actions. These are bald-faced lies that deserve to be denounced by your party’s leaders in the strongest terms.
Instead, Attorney General Jeff Sessions —who should be protecting human rights— has the audacity to invoke the Bible as justification for ripping children from the arms of their parents. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s lack of compassion came through on Sunday when he tweeted about the joys of fatherhood, while fathers are being tortured by the anguish of wondering if they will ever again see their children.
To use the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” That time is now. Please call for an immediate end to President Trump’s policy, and demand reunification of the more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents.
Jonathan Perloe is Vice Chair of Communications for the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee, although the views expressed here are his own.