Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he sees a “commonality” between President Trump ordering the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Nazi policy of separating children from parents at concentration camps.
“I know we’re not Nazi Germany, alright. But there is a commonality there and a fear on my part, that we have standards we have to live up to,” Hayden told CNN’s “New Day.”
Hayden on Saturday posted a photo to Twitter of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp used by Nazi Germany during World War II, along with the caption: “This is Birkenau. Then Germany. Now Poland. NO ONE who now walks through that portal on that siding can casually believe that civilized behavior is guaranteed.”
This is Birkenau. Then Germany. Now Poland. NO ONE who now walks through that portal on that siding can casually believe that civilized behavior is guaranteed. pic.twitter.com/T1wLka18Vf
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) June 16, 2018
Other governments have separated mothers and children pic.twitter.com/tvlBkGjT0h
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) June 16, 2018
“I guess I wanted to grab people’s attention, John, because as I reflected on this Saturday afternoon, this seemed to be a very important matter to my mind,” Hayden told host John Berman on Monday.
Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, unveiled the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border last month, directing border agents to separate children from their parents at the border and prosecute the adults. The administration has framed the new policy as a deterrent to stop migrants from attempting to enter the country.
The Trump admin announced last week that it would build a “tent city” in Tornillo, Texas to handle the overflow of children separated from their families.
Former first lady Laura Bush tore into the Trump administration’s hard-line family separation policy in a new op-ed, calling the practice “cruel” and comparing the unaccompanied minor detention centers to Japanese American internment camps.
“I live in a border state,” Bush wrote in the Washington Post. “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 wrote that the child detention centers were “eerily reminiscent” of Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.
“Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation,” she wrote. “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 called for “good people at all levels of government” to address the problem.
“In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis?” she wrote. “I, for one, believe we can.”
The United Nations human rights office earlier this month demanded that the Trump administration “immediately halt” its policy of tearing migrant children away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, declaring that the practice “always constitutes a child rights violation.”
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that the office is “deeply concerned” by the U.S. government’s decision to separate migrant families, arguing that the policy “amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child.”
“Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child,” Shamdasani declared, noting that the practice seems to have been in effect since October and has been applied “to both asylum-seekers and other migrants in vulnerable situations.”
“The child’s best interest should always come first, including over migration management objectives or other administrative concerns,” she continued, emphasizing that the policy “runs counter to human rights standards and principles.”
“The majority of people arriving at the U.S.’s southern border have fled Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—in many cases either because of rampant insecurity and violence, or because of violations of a range of other rights, such as health, education, and housing,” she noted. “The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense.”
Shamdasani also pointed out that although “the rights of children are generally held in high regard in the U.S., it is the only country in the world not to have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.” The convention explicitly states that children “should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding,” and has been active for nearly three decades.