Evangelical leader and Trump supporter Franklin Graham condemned the Trump administration’s policy that separates children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling it “disgraceful” and “terrible to see,” adding “I don’t support that one bit.”
“It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” Graham, son of the prominent evangelist Billy Graham said on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who unveiled the administration’s zero-tolerance policy last month, directed 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.
“I blame politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today,” Graham said. “We are a country of laws, laws need to be obeyed, no question about that, but the situation we have today as a result of our lawmakers in Washington over generations ignoring this.”
An estimated 1,800 families were separated at the U.S.–Mexico border from October 2016 to February 2018, according to Reuters.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have acknowledged that more than 2,400 children were separated from their families during the nearly 17-month period.
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 on Tuesday 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.