Inhumane, un-American, and unacceptable

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Let me summarize the arguments we’ve heard defending the Trump administration practice of separating children from their families at the border:

We’re not taking children away from their parents and putting them in cages.

But if we are then it’s Obama’s fault.

And if it’s a new policy it’s because the Democrats aren’t letting Republicans do anything, even though Republicans control all branches of the federal government and the majority of state governments.

And in any case the whole thing is moot because these people broke the law and so we’re justified in whatever we do to them.

Because that’s what the Bible says.


Sound about right?

I’m a practicing physician, board-certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, on faculty at one of the top academic hospitals in the world, affiliated with one of the top medical schools in the world.

So, I know what I’m talking about when I say this: Children need nurturing, supportive environments in order to develop properly. There is clear medical evidence that children who are exposed to high and constant levels of stress during early childhood suffer irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture, preventing certain nerve connections from forming, and affecting the child’s short- and long-term health. This is known as toxic stress and it is known to have lifelong consequences. We see this same phenomenon in children who are abused, children who come from broken homes, and children who grow up in war zones. Here’s a 2-minute video that summarizes toxic stress:

This practice of separating families has been strongly opposed by multiple national physicians’ organizations that I am a member of, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Physicians. Here are links to their statements:
– AMA (largest organization of physicians overall)
– AAP (largest organization of pediatricians)
– ACP (largest organization of internists)

Today, former First Lady Laura Bush published an op-ed in the Washington Post condemning this practice. Mrs. Bush never comments on any political matters, even when she was in the White House. Her statement has been supported by former First Lady Michelle Obama, who said, “Sometimes truth transcends party.”

We absolutely, undeniably, 100% need comprehensive immigration reform in this country. We need to secure our borders. It is intellectually dishonest to say or to think that any reasonable person doesn’t believe we need to secure our borders and reform our immigration policies. No reasonable person wants to simply “throw open our doors,” regardless of whatever partisan propaganda gets thrown around. Any reasonable person understands the economic, security, and other implications of unchecked illegal immigration. It is a problem we need to fix.

But, not like this. It’s true that the issue of immigration reform has been brought up many times in the past—by both parties, including both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama—and each time we’ve reached an impasse. It’s true that the issue of immigration reform, like the issues of gun control and abortion and other emotionally charged issues, make for effective political ammunition for one side to attack its opponents with, that there is a certain incentive in keeping the fight going. It is true that we need to overcome this impasse to achieve a sensible, rational solution.

But, not like this. This isn’t who we are. This isn’t America. This is inhumane, un-American, and unacceptable.

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