Laura Bush Calls The Separation Of Immigrant Families 'Cruel' In A Powerful Op-Ed

"It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."

Many have spoken out against the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, under which thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents at the border. But one rather surprising response came from former First Lady Laura Bush, who penned an op-ed for the Washington Post condemning the practice.


"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," Bush wrote, citing a report that nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families from April 19 to May 31. 

According to Reuters, the official number is now closer to 4,000. Bush also pointed to reports of a Texas detention center converted from a former Walmart store, as well as a new "tent city" near El Paso. The first lady, who never mentioned Trump by name, compared these facilities to the internment camps that held Japanese Americans during World War II.

As Bush points out, such "treatment inflicts trauma," as those who were interned are reportedly twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not.

"We pride ourselves on acceptance," Bush wrote of the United States. "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."

She referred to reports that shelter workers are apparently instructed "not to pick up or touch the children to comfort them," recalling the time her late mother-in-law, fellow First Lady Barbara Bush, held a child with HIV/AIDS, seeing it as "the right thing to do in a world that can be arbitrary, unkind and even cruel."

As CNN points out, Bush has "seldom weighed in on politics" since her family left the White House. Clearly, this issue struck a chord with her, as she concluded her piece by urging the country to "find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis."

Cover image: stocklight /


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.