Typically former presidents refrain from criticizing the current administration, but the Trump presidency is anything by typical. President Obama has not been shy when it comes to protecting children. Although he has refrained from criticizing Trump on many occasions, when it came to DACA, he did not shy away from speaking out.
The same can be said about earlier today when the former president decided to go on the offensive against Trump’s harshly criticizing the child separation policy at our southern border.
Obama wrote the following Facebook post:
Today is World Refugee Day.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have been born in America, imagine for a moment if circumstance had placed you somewhere else. Imagine if you’d been born in a country where you grew up fearing for your life, and eventually the lives of your children. A place where you finally found yourself so desperate to flee persecution, violence, and suffering that you’d be willing to travel thousands of miles under cover of darkness, enduring dangerous conditions, propelled forward by that very human impulse to create for our kids a better life.
That’s the reality for so many of the families whose plights we see and heart-rending cries we hear. And to watch those families broken apart in real time puts to us a very simple question: are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together? Do we look away, or do we choose to see something of ourselves and our children?
Our ability to imagine ourselves in the shoes of others, to say “there but for the grace of God go I,” is part of what makes us human. And to find a way to welcome the refugee and the immigrant – to be big enough and wise enough to uphold our laws and honor our values at the same time – is part of what makes us American. After all, almost all of us were strangers once, too. Whether our families crossed the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we’re only here because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, how our last names sound, or the way we worship. To be an American is to have a shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve the chance to become something better.
That’s the legacy our parents and grandparents and generations before created for us, and it’s something we have to protect for the generations to come. But we have to do more than say “this isn’t who we are.” We have to prove it – through our policies, our laws, our actions, and our votes.
Although it’s almost certainly a coincidence, within minutes of this Facebook post, President Trump came before the American media to announce that he would be signing an executive order, which will halt the separation of families who are in detention along our southern border.
President Obama appears to have made good on his promise, not to interfere in politics, unless those politics involve children. I believe that Obama’s remarks speak for the vast majority of Americans today, and President Trump has clearly begun to understand that himself.