At least 85 former U.S. ambassadors are urging President Donald Trump to follow through and go beyond his plan to stop separating migrant families at the southern border, saying the previous policy was “barbarism” that damages American diplomacy.
The former ambassadors communicated their concerns in a letter shared exclusively with POLITICO on Wednesday. The signatories include Susan Rice – who represented the U.S. at the United Nations before becoming President Barack Obama’s national security adviser – and many ambassadors who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.
“As foreign policy professionals, we urge President Trump and members of his administration to end the barbarism now underway, return children to their parents and engage in a serious debate about how to ensure that government agencies carry out immigration policies in a manner that adheres to our values and standards of decency,” the letter states.
Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday afternoon halting the practice of separating families that was a product of his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Although the change is intended to keep families together, there are now questions about how long those families will be detained under the new rules.
The former ambassadors’ concerns mirrors the bipartisan condemnation heard from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies.
The ex-envoys highlighted how the separation and detention of more than 2,000 children undermined an important part of the work U.S. diplomats do overseas: reuniting American parents with their children.
“For example, in Mexico, the destination for the largest number of ‘absconding parents’ who travel there with their children to evade judicial decisions, the U.S. Embassy has reunited hundreds of legally entitled American parents with their minor children with the help of Mexican authorities,” the former ambassadors wrote.
“Separating children flies in the face of the work many of us have done as ambassadors to bring families together,” they added.
The letter also called upon the administration to join forces with other countries, including Canada and Mexico, to “improve conditions that are driving these desperate migrants, many of whom are mothers seeking to escape gang violence and domestic abuse.”
World leaders have expressed their disapproval of Trump’s family-separation policy. Some of the most prominent voices include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray of Mexico.
“What’s going on in the United States is wrong. I can’t imagine what families living through this are enduring,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday morning. “This is not the way we do things in Canada”
Although Trump’s executive order aims to stop separating children from their parents, he says he’s keeping the broader “zero tolerance” policy that leads to criminal prosecution of people crossing the border illegally.
The original story can be found here.
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