The crisis at the U.S.'s southern border is so incendiary it even has Trump loyalists cracking.
Late last week, it became clear just how bad things were from the Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance policy of criminally prosecuting anyone crossing the border: About 2,000 children had been separated from their families in just six weeks, according to DHS figures obtained by the AP. Since then, support for the hard-line immigration policy has been splintering, with the staunchest supporters of the administration standing by the child separation policy — but others, even groups who have historically supported the president, vocally opposing the policy.
Here’s a rundown of the strongest reactions to the administration’s policy of separating children from their families:
The Mormons are “deeply troubled”
The Mormon Church issued a condemnation Monday.
“The forced separation of children from their parents now occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border is harmful to families, especially to young children,” the church said in a statement. “We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families.”
Over 600 members of Jeff Sessions’ church signed a complaint against him
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a staunch Christian, but members of his own denomination, the United Methodist Church, have voiced their deep concern for the separation of children from their parents.
In a letter signed by over 600 members of the clergy and the laity, Sessions is accused of child abuse, immorality, racism, and misusing a Bible verse to justify the enforcement of the child separation policy. Sessions cited Romans 13, “to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” as Sessions quoted it, to defend the policy. The same verse was used to defend slavery.
Conservative pastors Franklin Graham and Tony Suarez
Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, a prominent Trump supporter and son of "America's pastor" Billy Graham, told the Christian Broadcasting Network last week, “It's disgraceful, and it's terrible to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit."
Tony Suárez, a Latino evangelical who has advised Trump, tweeted that breaking up families is “not the answer and is immoral."
Senate Republicans are turning on Trump
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has called for new legislation to deal with the crisis, while Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called on the president to stop family separations.
"This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week," Cruz wrote in a release Monday.
The bill he’s pushing doubles the number of federal immigration judges on the border, provides for temporary shelters to house detained families, and require border agents to keep families together except in the case of aggravated criminal conduct on the part of a parent.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, has called on Trump directly to end the policy. “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call,” he said on CNN on Friday. “I’ll go tell him. If you don’t like families’ being separated, you can tell D.H.S. stop doing it.”
House Republicans oppose the policy, too (kind of)
They’re proposing a new bill that would require detained families to be detained together, but they would still be detained.
Prior to the “zero tolerance” policy that Trump’s DOJ announced in April, families detained at the border had to be released within 20 days. The Republican bill would allow them to be imprisoned for more time as long as they’re held together.
Even Republican immigration hard-liners in the House want to soften the Trump administration’s child separation policy: Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Republican from Virginia, told NPR that he’ll work with his colleagues in the House on the compromise bill.
"We're hard at work on language right now to take care of this problem so that children can remain with their parents," Goodlatte said.
Laura Bush: The policy is “cruel” and “immoral”
“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,” the former first lady, Laura Bush, wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Sunday.
Melania laid blame on “both sides”
"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," Melania’s press representative said in a statement on Monday to CNN. In phrasing the issue this way, she’s echoing her husband’s false assertion that laws that Democrats are leading to the family separations. The separations are the direct result of Trump administration policy.
Trump’s own reaction: “I hate it.”
“I hate it. I hate to see the children being taken away,” President Trump said at an impromptu press conference on Friday. “The Democrats have to change it. That’s their law.” But in actuality, the law gives the government options, and past administrations chose not to separate families, on moral or political grounds.
Cover image: A man carrying a child boards a private bus used by Mexican authorities to transport a large group of Central American migrants to a migrant detention facility in Veracruz, Mexico, late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Authorities say they rescued at least 115 migrants in Veracruz, a Mexican state located along the traditional route Central American migrants take to the U.S. Local press reports the group was being transported in inhumane conditions in a trailer. (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)