Our country is going through a traumatic crises of morality, image and human decency. The atrocities we are seeing perpetrated at the border as children are ripped from the arms of their mother are of the making of one man — President Donald J. Trump. He singlehandedly ordered it to be done, and he can end it now.
But he won’t. Instead, in typical Trump fashion, he is doubling down on his untruths and outright lies, blaming Democrats for the current crimes against humanity for which only he is responsible. Let’s be very clear: This is of his doing only.
There is no law on the books that must be enforced that calls for separating babies and toddlers from their moms and dads. This is a voluntary policy that, by the attorney general’s own admission, is done as a “zero tolerance” policy to act as a deterrent for those coming to seek asylum in the United States.
I first wrote in this space about this shameful policy when it was first reported back in May. I am thrilled that it is finally getting the attention it deserves so that every American can speak out loudly and forcefully against a policy that uses the same tactics that have been used by the most insidious purveyors of evil throughout history.
Who are we becoming? The latest CNN poll shows that a large majority of Americans oppose these criminal acts that terrorize children, and, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, the separations will cause irreparable and permanent harm.
But there are those for whom these acts are warranted, as they support and approve of them. In fact, Fox News is shamefully becoming the network that is applauding these child-abusing tactics, cheering on this government-sanctioned child abduction and dismissing advocates' complaints about the animalistic conditions in which these kids are being kept.
This policy will not serve as a deterrent. These migrant families are experiencing a desperation I do not wish upon my worst enemies. As a mother and an immigrant who has experienced atrocities that forced me to flee my homeland (Colombia), I understand what it is like. It is something that no one should ever have to go through.
These parents are choosing to leave their nations where they are threatened daily by MS-13 gang members (ironically those same “animals” the president speaks of here in U.S.).
The parents choose to undertake a life-threatening journey to a land where they have a least the slimmest chance to gain protection, asylum and a better future for their children.
Many of these parents are actually following a legal process established by U.S. law. They are presenting themselves at ports of entry, and they are still being criminally detained by the authorities and their children taken away.
But again, this policy will not deter a desperate parent. A parent prefers his or her child being separated from them over the child being murdered or forcefully initiated into gang life back home.
This policy is not mandatory. There is no law that enshrines the separation of children from the parents while they are being processed. It was not done under President Obama nor President Bush. Families were charged civilly and processed together.
This policy does not protect kids who may be coming here trafficked or smuggled. There is no question that we cannot let smugglers take advantage of these parents and children by letting them get away with using kids for their criminal enterprises. There are ways to deal with that.
But this policy is not one of them. The majority of the parents who show up at the border with their children are actually the parents of these children. To use the “smuggling” excuse is to ignore the facts and punish kids for a failure in the bigger picture of combatting smuggling rings.
This policy will not make it better for those immigrants who are waiting in line either here or in their home countries to come here legally. Supporters of this barbaric policy sing the injustice of those who are trying to do it right by following the legal procedure.
But does that mean we punish children and permanently scar them to make a point of the unfairness of the system? Talk about twisted.
So where does this leave us?
President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE is digging in his heels, even in the face of heart-wrenching images of kids in fenced-in areas and audio of tearful toddlers asking for their mothers and fathers. Will Republicans continue to stay silent? Or will they finally grow a spine and stand up for what is right?
If doing the morally right thing is not enough incentive for GOP leaders to push Trump to change this policy, then how about the perilous politics of the upcoming midterms? Moderate, suburban, white Republican women oppose these horrid policies, as do independent voters. Republicans will lose the House without their support.
Will they do the right thing now? If not, Americans will put in place a zero-tolerance policy for blind Trump-supporting Republicans come November and start making this country resemble America once more.
Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.