EDITORIAL: Trump administration should back off policy of separating families at the border

Politics these days has been reduced to optics and finger-pointing — and there’s plenty of the latter going around in the ongoing fiasco at the nation’s southern border.

Opponents of the president are understandably up in arms over the administration’s policy of separating immigrant families seeking to enter the United States through Mexico. But, as usual, much of the rhetoric is overheated and beyond the pale. Can we move past the trite and offensive comparisons between Donald Trump and Hitler that members of the “resistance” insist on offering?

Republicans, meanwhile, are struggling to contain a potential PR disaster that many worry could cost them at the polls come November. The Wall Street Journal called the situation an “election-year nightmare.” For his part, the president has blamed Democrats for the situation and, predictably, dug in against a public backlash while continuing to defend his “zero-tolerance” policy at the border.

Mr. Trump should instead show some leadership and humility and reconsider.

Can the adults in the room come together and recognize that we’re talking about children? Children — as many as 2,000 from April through May — who have been taken from their parents in an unfamiliar land and, at times, put into holding cages while their parents’ cases are adjudicated. Surely, there’s a better way.

This shouldn’t be about partisanship or scoring political points with an eye toward November. The images of crying children being forcibly pried from their parents should be disturbing and unsettling to all, regardless of political preference. This mess demands that the administration and Congress do the right thing and work to address what is clearly an intolerable situation. There is widespread bipartisan support for ending the current policy, and the president should pay heed to a simple premise: children of any country should not be used a political pawns.

Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shelve the policy of separating children from their mothers and fathers while Congress considers a fix, the Journal reported Tuesday. In addition, Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who is no softie on illegal immigration, said he will introduce legislation that “would create new temporary shelters to keep families together while asylum cases are pending,” according to the Journal.

These would both be positive steps toward a more humane and sensible approach espoused by first lady Melania Trump and every other living former first lady.

The debate over the plight of these immigrant kids is symptomatic of Congress’ inability in recent years to craft a more thoughtful and comprehensive policy that recognizes the vast benefits of legal immigration while acknowledging the urgency of securing and controlling our borders in an effort to deter illegal crossings. While it may be too much to ask for congressional Democrats and Republicans to reach a grand compromise on that divisive issue, surely Mr. Trump and Congress can quickly craft a more humanitarian manner of dealing with families at the border.

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