White House Defends Controversial Immigration Policy: Trump Has Repeatedly Asked Congress To Act On Immigration
FACING rising outrage from some Republicans as well as Democrats over the forced separation of migrant children and parents at the US-Mexico border, US President Donald Trump dug in Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats and declaring he would keep the US from becoming “a migrant camp.”
Democrats have turned up the pressure over the administration policy, and some Republicans have joined the chorus of criticism. Former First Lady Laura Bush has called the separation policy “cruel” and “immoral” while Republican senator Susan Collins expressed concern about it and a former adviser to Mr Trump questioned using the policy to pressure Democrats on immigration legislation.
Mr Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats on Monday, as he detoured from planned remarks on US space policy to defend his administration’s policies. “I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault,” he said at the White House.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he added. “Not on my watch.”
It comes as former first lady Michelle Obama also added her voice to the rising chorus of criticism of the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the US border.
On Twitter, Mrs Obama re-tweeted a message from former first lady Laura Bush promoting a column she wrote decrying the policy.
Mrs Obama added: “Sometimes truth transcends party.”
Laura Bush is the wife of former Republican president George W. Bush. She called the separation policy “cruel” and “immoral” in a guest column for The Washington Post on Sunday.
Current first lady Melania Trump, who has tended to stay out of contentious policy debates, has waded into the issue.
Her spokeswoman said Mrs Trump believes “we need to be a country that follows all laws” but also one “that governs with heart”.
“Mrs Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said.
Another former first lady, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton called the “zero tolerance” policy “a moral and humanitarian crisis”. Speaking at an awards lunch for the Women’s Forum of New York, Mrs Clinton said what was happening to families at the US-Mexico border is “horrific”. “Every human being with a sense of compassion and decency should be outraged,” Mrs Clinton said on Monday.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen rejected criticism accusing her department of inhuman and immoral actions.
“We are doing none of those things. We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” she said in an appearance before the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans.
Like Mr Trump, she called on Congress to reform immigration laws. Nearly 2000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney-General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution.
“We do not want to separate parents from their children,” Mr Sessions said. “If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices.” Mr Trump asserted on Monday that children “are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth” as a way to enter the United States.
He tweeted: “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border,” calling it “historic.”