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Even Trump's allies are criticizing his 'zero tolerance' policy of separating illegal immigrants from their children

Key Points
  • The Trump administration's hard-line immigration policy causing a spike in the number of children being separated from their parents has been widely criticized across political aisles.
  • Some of Trump's reliable allies in the media and politics have voiced their concerns for the thousands of children taken from their parents who tried to cross the border illegally.
  • Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy.
People participate in a protest against recent U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, NJ, June 17, 2018.
Stephanie Keith | Reuters

Pundits and politicians across the political spectrum are responding to a bombardment of shocking stories and imagery depicting immigrant children separated from their families and held in detention centers.

The Trump administration's new zero-tolerance policy on illegal border crossings has led to a spike in prosecutions — and as a result, increased family separations. In the six weeks following that order, 1,995 children had been separated from their parents, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman told news outlets on Friday.

The hard-line policy has produced howls of condemnation from long-time critics of President Donald Trump. But even some of Trump's reliable allies in the media and politics have voiced their concerns for the thousands of children taken from their parents.

The decision to prosecute any and all illegal border crossings was reinforced in an April 6 memorandum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions directing U.S. attorneys "to adopt a policy to prosecute all" such violations "to the extent practicable."

But as the realities of such a policy come to light — through pictures of children sleeping on concrete floors and huddling in wire cages in stark detention centers — other Trump administration officials and allies have called for the policy to change.

Trump's outspoken legal defender, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, weighed in on Sunday in a CBS interview. While Giuliani's interview style has recently been defined by bellicose attacks on Trump's enemies, he struck an empathetic note on the question of family separations.

"I don't like to see, and I know President Trump doesn't like the children taken away from their parents," Giuliani said.

Stop this madness

Anthony Scaramucci, who has been a regular presence on cable news networks since being fired as White House communications director after less than two weeks, called for Congress to "stop this madness" on Twitter Saturday. He added that the policy issue is "a combination bipartisan mess" in subsequent tweets.

Yet after describing the policy as "inhumane" and "offensive to the average American," Scaramucci conceded in a CNN interview Monday morning, "We all know that the President can" change the policy unilaterally.

"Yeah, he has the executive power to do that," Scaramucci added.

Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, who has been an implacable foe of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, admonished the president directly in a Fox New interview on Monday.

"You have to end this policy of separating parents from children," Dershowitz said. "Not because of the parents, but because of the children. It imposes a trauma on the children."

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told NBC News, "This is a perilous journey for many of these children, and if people really cared about them we would figure out a way to get the funding to expand the centers and to close the loopholes."

Even first lady Melania Trump bemoaned the situation. In her first-ever comment on immigration and families, Trump said through a spokeswoman: "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."