Former First Lady, Laura Bush, weighed in on the controversial debate about children being separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border. She wrote a passionate and compassionate op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday.
Bush began the article by describing the issue as it relates to the national celebration of fathers.
“On Sunday, a day we as a nation set aside to honor fathers and the bonds of family, I was among the millions of Americans who watched images of children who have been torn from their parents. In the six weeks between April 19 and May 31, the Department of Homeland Security has sent nearly 2,000 children to mass detention centers or foster care.”
Laura Bush explains the dilemma from the perspective of a Texan.
“I live in a border state. 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 maintains that the government should not be “warehousing” children in converted box stores or putting them in a “tent city” in the desert. And she alludes to the horror that our country experienced with Japanese American internment camps during World War II. She said this is “now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”
The former First Lady challenged America to remember that we are a nation the sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. She reminded us as a nation about our values.
“We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. 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.”
Bush acknowledged that our immigration system is not working. But she insisted that the present “zero tolerance” policy is not the answer. She said that although she moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, “I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.”
Laura Bush tugged on the hearts of Americans, telling them that the workers in these detention areas were instructed that they should not pick up the young children to try to comfort them. The first lady told this story about another former First Lady, Barbara Bush.
“Twenty-nine years ago, my mother-in-law, Barbara Bush, visited Grandma’s House, a home for children with HIV/AIDS in Washington. Back then, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the disease was a death sentence, and most babies born with it were considered ‘untouchables.’ During her visit, Barbara — who was the first lady at the time — picked up a fussy, dying baby named Donovan and snuggled him against her shoulder to soothe him. My mother-in-law never viewed her embrace of that fragile child as courageous. She simply saw it as the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind and even cruel.
In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.”