Christie: Yes, separating migrant children from parents at U.S.-Mexico border is child abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Children wrap themselves up with Mylar blankets to ‘symbolically represent the thousands of children separated from families on the border, sleeping on floors and held in cages’, during a protest at the rotunda of Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday on Capitol Hill. Activists staged a demonstration to protest the Trump Administration’s policy to separate migrant families at the southern border. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

UPDATE: Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will be in Homestead today at noon meeting with federal officials and getting a firsthand look at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. Nelson, a Democrat, filed legislation in the Senate earlier this month to prohibit the Dept. of Homeland Security from continuing the blanket policy of separating children from their parents at the border. According to recent reports, there are roughly 1,000 migrant children currently being held at the Homestead shelter – some of whom were separated from their families at the border, and others who were unaccompanied minors when they crossed the border.

***

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it now has 11,785 migrants in custody. That includes 1,995 children who have been separated from their parents. And of those, more than 100 are four years old and younger.

This is just inhumane. I don’t care what Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says.

How does a four, three or two-year-old even process being separated from their mother? According to Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, they can’t. They just cry.

“These children have been traumatized on their trip up to the border, and the first thing that happens is we take away the one constant in their life that helps them buffer all these horrible experiences,” she said of the nearly 2,000 children affected by the crackdown. “That’s child abuse.”

This tragic build-up at the U.S.-Mexico border has been happening for some time. It’s only within the last several months that it has grown to a number that led President Donald J. Trump to feel that it was untenable.

But in fact, now we know that the Trump administration intentionally began separating migrant children from their parents specifically to discourage them from crossing the border.

According to The Associated Press, the policy, which started last month, “sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally,” leading to more adults in jail, separated from their children.

But remember, the vast majority of these people — from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and others — are attempting to escape violence in their own countries. And it is not illegal to seek asylum in this country.

It is illegal to come into the United States illegally. But the U.S. immigration system had been broken for decades; largely because of the lack of political will to fix it. As a result, the strictness of policy has depended on the administration.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the National Space Council in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, on Monday. At the event, Trump remained resistant in the face of growing public outcry over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

But it’s very safe to say, no administration has gone this far.

“The United States will not be a migrant camp,” Trump said in remarks Monday where he doubled down by defending and deflecting on the migrant separations, “… and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

Trump also continued to blame Democrats — despite the fact that Republicans control the House, Senate and White House — for his implementing this part of a zero tolerance policy. Worse, the president and his administration continued to put forth lie that they are following law. There is no law requiring migrant children be separated from their parents.

As we are bombarded with pictures and audio recordings of children wailing in what look like dog kennels, however, the mutual disgust is crossing partisan lines. The pundits argue that Trump is playing to his base of support, but a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday  showed that Americans, 3-1, want this policy ended.

Even Melania Trump, one of the most reticent first ladies in memory, came out on Twitter against the the child separations. And former first lady Laura Bush criticized the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration as “cruel” in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday likening it to Japanese internment camps.

“I live in a border state,” Bush wrote. “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.”

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post FREE weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

What do you think of the Trump administration policy of separating migrant children from their parents? Take our poll and tell us.

Goodman: Do you see President Trump as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize?

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a campaign-style rally in Washington Township, Mich., on Saturday. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Is there a Nobel Peace Prize in President Trump’s future? The man who talked about “shithole countries” and warned North Korea, and its leader “little Rocket Man,” of “fire and fury like the world has never seen”?

Sen. Lindsay Graham thinks it’s possible. The South Carolina Republican and former Trump critic said that if there’s a successful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Trump should get the credit.

“Donald Trump convinced North Korea and China he was serious about bringing about change,” Graham said Friday. “We’re not there yet, but if this happens, President Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.”

And so does Harry J. Kazianas, director of the conservative Center for the National Interest.

President Trump’s tough stance against a nuclear North Korea and his success in winning approval of international economic sanctions against the North at the United Nations that have crippled the country’s economy clearly succeeded beyond expectations in pushing Kim to the negotiating table.

Christie: Other child victims also deserve President Trump’s attention, Post reader says

In this April 4 photo, Abdel Hameed Alyousef, 29, holds his twin babies who were killed during a suspected chemical weapons attack, in Khan Sheikhoun in the northern province of Idlib, Syria. France’s foreign minister says chemical analysis of samples taken from a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria shows that the nerve agent used “bears the signature” of President Bashar Assad’s government and shows it was responsible. (Alaa Alyousef via AP, File)

A few weeks ago President Trump, quickly reacting to 22 children being gassed, ordered a missile attack on a Syrian airfield. Because the use of gas is universally unacceptable, the president generally received bipartisan support for his action. Although the attack was somewhat knee jerk in nature, most people gave him a pass because children were involved.

A week later, 40 children were among the scores of people who died in Beirut while trying to find something to eat. A bomb explosion may not have the same visceral effect as gas, the carnage described in graphic detail. Unless I missed the coverage, there was no reaction from the White House, although, obviously, dead children are dead children, regardless of the cause.

With so many children dying in a relatively short period of time, I wonder whether anyone thought back to the tragic killings of 20 first-grade pupils in Newtown, Conn. One life is certainly as important as another. Yet all that was asked of our Congress was to pass more comprehensive regulations  on the sale of guns. Congress, or at least the Republicans in Congress, either have no conscience or have sold them to the NRA.

According to a Huffington Post article, “There Have Been Over 200 School Shooting Incidents Since The Sandy Hook Massacre,” (Dec. 14) and Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization of more than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners and everyday Americans working to end gun violence, there have been more than 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, averaging about one shooting per week.

These shootings resulted in approximately 94 gun-related deaths and 156 injuries.

I find it difficult to comprehend why President Trump who campaigned for “America First” chooses as his first aggressive action an attack in Syria, rather than addressing the obvious problems at home. This is only one example of poor judgment our president has exhibited during his first 100 days in office.

BURT EDELCHICK, HOBE SOUND

Christie: My Cuba ‘adventure’ hard to put into words

IMG_20160317_093852When I mention to folks that I’ve just returned from Cuba (visited March 16-20), invariably the response is one of surprise followed by the breathless questions: “You’ve been to Cuba? What was it like?”

You’d think the answer would be easy, but I’m often caught off guard by where to start. I usually give the knee-jerk response, “It was an adventure” or “It’s a very interesting place.”

I know; a real cop out answer.

Truthfully, it is a very interesting place that is quite an adventure. But does it start with just getting there (which was an ALL-DAY adventure all in itself)? Do I talk about the great food (like garlic octopus), the addictive coffee or plentiful rum (it’s about more than just Havana Club)? How about the fact that I wish I could bottle whatever allows Cubans to be so less stressed than us Americans?

As my Sunday column shows, I chose to focus on a few notable things that really defined the Cuban people and my trip for me; especially when it came to the U.S.-Cuba embargo. And it was capped by the arrival of President Barack Obama for his historic visit to the Communist island.

The following email from a reader is typical of the responses I’ve gotten:

“Airport window… Loved your column today. It described our feelings about Cuba exactly. What wonderful people and how little they make do with… Among other places we stayed was a bed and breakfast owned by a Dr… He worked in Havana all week and wife took in visitors… Immaculate. 3 pigs were slaughtered in the yard next to us… what a contrast… could go on and on.. Have been to many places but none like Cuba.

Our of our guide was the architect overseeing remake of old Havana and he said they are afraid the infrastructure will not be able to handle the influx of cruise ships etc. .. God bless Cuba.

Signed a spoiled blessed American. Again thanks for your column… I’m saving it.”

Same here.