Time to Show What It Means To Be American

Increasingly, our political discourse has had the effect — and apparently the purpose — of dividing Americans rather than bringing us together.

Since day one, this administration has enacted divisive legislation in many areas that has divided friends, colleagues, and families. And now, we have seen the Trump administration adopt immigration policies that literally divide families.

Over the last six weeks, we have watched in disbelief as stories emerge of families separated at our border. In that time, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents as a part of the Trump administration’s new policy on detention. To see infants ripped from their mothers who are still nursing them, children sleeping on concrete floors behind chain link fences, and parents desperately searching for their children is as heartbreaking as it is outrageous.

In a word, it is un-American.

Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and others continue to misrepresent the origin and purpose of this cruel and inhumane immigration policy.

There is no doubt that we need to fix our immigration system. It is complex and presents difficult challenges, but Congress’s utter failure even to try for the last several years is unacceptable. Refusing to propose or debate solutions results in gridlock and dysfunction that has failed to produce results for years — and has Americans frustrated with government.

Now, the Trump administration is using the most vulnerable among us as political pawns to try to force Congress to adopt its own policies without meaningful debate or discussion. Indeed, the Trump administration has made a grotesque practice of using children as bargaining chips — with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the DREAMers, and now separating families at the border. He has not only acknowledged this, he has lied to the country about the history of this new policy that neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration enacted, or even appear to have considered.

In some ways, this effort has had the effect of uniting Americans — because Americans across the political spectrum, from the left to the right, are calling for an end to the devastating separation of asylum-seeking families and others at the border. Former First Lady Laura Bush published her thoughts in the Washington Post, reminding us that the detention centers are “eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.

Lawyers are mobilizing to challenge these actions. Lawmakers are standing up. Americans are speaking out. And we must continue to do all these things.

Now is also the time for Congress to listen to these Americans. It must reject the ruthless tactics of the Trump administration and reach bipartisan consensus to reject this practice at the border — and to reject this brinksmanship in our politics.

It is time for Congress to demonstrate — to us and to the world — what it means to be American.

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