The U.N. human rights chief on Monday called on the administration of President Donald Trump to stop forcibly taking children away from migrant parents who enter the United States at the border with Mexico.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called President Trump’s policy – one that has seen nearly 2,000 children taken from their parents between mid-April and the end of May — “unconscionable.”
“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable. I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children,” said Zeid.
He has been a vocal critic of President Trump, accusing his administration’s harsh policies on immigrants, refuges, Muslims and other minorities for the “surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities.”
In fact, Zeid sees President Trump’s direct impact on the global human rights picture as so massive and negative that it filled him with enough hopelessness and rage to decide he was going to step down after his current term.
Reportedly under pressure to ease off on his criticism of Trump, Zeid told his staff in December that seeking another term “in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication; muting a statement of advocacy; lessening the independence and integrity of my voice – which is your voice.”
This is the second time this month the United Nations has urged the United States to stop tearing families apart who are simply seeking access to the process of asking for asylum — something they have a right to do under U.S. and international law.
It’s worth noting that this does not mean they are guaranteed refugee status. But it does mean that they have the right to apply for the status and to go through a legal process, rather than being treated as criminals at the border.
The United Nations is far from the only group calling for the end of this practice.
Human rights groups and various apolitical associations – including The American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – are also speaking out about the new policy, citing the horrific effects the trauma of such separation on the children.
In justifying it “zero-tolerance” policy, Trump administration officials are pretty much all over the place.
For instance, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has denied this is a policy at all, despite having already defended the practice, whereas Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went with the curiously biblical justification.