Michelle Obama might be the saltiest Obama, and I kind of love her for it. She doesn't hold back about what she feels is important, and let's be honest, in the current political climate there's a lot that's important. But her latest sample of bon mots might be the best yet, in part because it's so simple. Michelle Obama's tweet about Laura Bush's immigration op-ed made a great point about how all politicians — and everyone — should approach a divisive political issue.
On Monday, June 18, Obama joined forces with her predecessor as first lady, Laura Bush, by retweeting Bush's op-ed for The Washington Post, in which the former Republican first lady called the Trump administration's policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the border "cruel" and "immoral." In the op-ed, Bush wrote,
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.
And despite political differences, that was something Obama could clearly get behind. In fact, she noted explicitly in a tweet on Monday that differences of politics should have no bearing on an issue like children's welfare. Obama wrote simply, "Sometimes truth transcends party."
Clearly, it was all that needed to be said.
It's no secret that politics can get nasty, particularly along party lines, but Obama's right that there are some things that are so obvious, on moral grounds, that they shouldn't even enter into the realm of party politics — and one of those things is that a child's welfare should never be used as a bargaining chip or sacrificed as a political casualty. Seriously, I can't believe this has to be said, but I guess it does.
In early April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all undocumented immigrants, meaning that undocumented families crossing the border would be separated from their children as a matter of course (as the adults were to be prosecuted) and detained separately. In the weeks since, the policy has proven to be — to use a technical term — an utterly horrifying hot mess, with reports of parents and children separated for weeks or even months, parents deported without their children, and bureaucratic obstacles hindering families from being reunited.
Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in the weeks since the policy was implemented, according to The Guardian, and photos have shown children sobbing as their parents are processed. The American Academy of Pediatrics has condemned the policy, warning that exposure to this kind of stress and trauma "can carry lifelong consequences for children."
Though the administration has defended the policy, it's been met with criticism across the political spectrum, with Republican lawmakers such as Sens. Susan Collins and Orrin Hatch speaking against it, per CNN. In fact, President Trump even has a critic close to home, as current first lady Melania Trump even spoke out against the policy — although she hedged it by saying that "both sides of the aisle" needed to work to change it, referencing her husband's false claims that Democrats are to blame for the policy. Melania Trump's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham shared a statement with The Hill saying,
Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.
So basically, Obama isn't alone on this one. Not by a long shot.
Although things are troubling now, there's still ways to stand against separating families. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced the Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit children from being separated from their parents, and in the House of Representatives, there's the HELP Separated Children Act, introduced by California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. To get involved, you can (and should!) call your senator or representative and let them know what you think of the legislation — Elite Daily's even put together a handy guide on how to make it happen smoothly.
In the meantime, we can, as usual, take Obama's words as inspiration. Sometimes, there are things that transcend party. Thanks for reminding us all, Michelle.