As President Trump announced he would sign an executive order to end his controversial policy of separating families at the border this afternoon, former President Barack Obama weighed in with a thoughtful Facebook post in time for World Refugee Day, that slammed Trump's policy.
Obama spoke about how the United States is supposed to serve as a beacon of hope and safety for those trying to "flee persecution, violence, and suffering."
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.
The former president implores Americans to reflect upon the happenings in recent weeks, as our country grapples with thousands of people escaping violence in Central and South America.
Obama weighs in on Trump’s family-separation policy: “Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children… https://t.co/pfap759Xbx— The Daily Beast (@The Daily Beast) 1529515807.0
"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?" he asked.
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?
Obama said that being an American means embracing the underlying ideal that says "all of us deserve the chance to become something better."
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.
In closing, Obama urges Americans to live up to the legacy of previous generations, which, albeit imperfectly, touted our country as a place for all those who seek a better life.
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 Obama's post didn't directly mention Trump or anyone within his inner orbit, the message was clear. Forcibly separating families is morally reprehensible and antithetical to who we are as a people.
.@MaddowBlog: Former President Obama issued a statement this afternoon that made no direct references to Donald Tru… https://t.co/zxYmlGXz4R— MSNBC (@MSNBC) 1529520660.0
On Wednesday afternoon, Trump signed an executive order reversing his own administration's policy, though it remains unclear as to how and when the thousands of children will be reunited with their parents, many of whom have been charged with a crime for attempting to enter the United States illegally.
“So we're going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
The president, who was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, added: "we will be going through Congress. We’re working on a much more comprehensive bill. What we have done today is we are keeping families together.”
Reactions to Obama's statement poured into Twitter.
@thedailybeast Thank you @MrPresident. Your words are always comforting ; I miss you more and more everyday.… https://t.co/ggQllNTBSj— 🌊Judy Blue 🌊 (@🌊Judy Blue 🌊) 1529516726.0
@thedailybeast You need to be more vocal Mr. President— Cheryl Marino (@Cheryl Marino) 1529518170.0
@thedailybeast Thank you President @BarackObama we need to hear your wise words. Praying for those children who are… https://t.co/AKcJULT481— Ժҽղíտҽ ɾҽղҽҽ (@Ժҽղíտҽ ɾҽղҽҽ) 1529518585.0
@thedailybeast There’s my president— La Jolla Liberal (@La Jolla Liberal) 1529515959.0