On Saturday, I went to the Texas GOP Convention in San Antonio, and had the opportunity to speak with one of my favorite Republicans, Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX 1), whom I've interviewed several times over the years. I say 'favorite,' because he is usually quite affable and forthright about his political views. Yesterday was no different when I asked him about the hot button topic of immigration, specifically the Trump policy of separating migrant children from their parents.
Gohmert concurs with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders that it is biblical to enforce the law, in order "to encourage good conduct." He went on to say:
And by the way, there is none of this mistreatment of the children… They’re being treated extremely well. Better than, I mean the food they’re getting, the education, the exposure. There’s the possibility that people will be encouraged to come, so that their children can go into that kind of atmosphere...
Though it was not obvious, my head exploded in that moment. The cognitive dissonance of this Family Values Republican supporting tearing apart families was just too much. Family separation is no benign act. The United Nations called this policy a violation of human rights and international law, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it can "cause irreparable harm" to children's brain development.
The following day, serendipity struck, and I had the opportunity to get the other side of this story, in McAllen, where activists gathered to protest outside of the Ursula Ave. Border Patrol Processing Center. They chose Father's Day to highlight the harmful impact of separation on families, and honored Marco Antonio Muñoz, a Honduran immigrant who committed suicide in May after being separated from his wife and child.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who is leading the charge on exposing these human rights abuses, toured the facility with a Congressional delegation and joined the protest afterwards for a press conference. I asked him to respond to Rep. Gohmert's comments. Merkley cited the AAP statement, adding:
This is deep trauma for children, a huge, huge infliction on parents as well. There is no way that family separation policy is good for anyone... this is absolutely un-American.
Un-American is right. And un-Christian. And yes, even un-Republican... Trump's allies have sold their souls, deep in the heart of Texas.