World expresses outrage at Trump policy on separating migrant families

Outrage continued to grow around the world Wednesday over the Trump administration's short-lived policy of separating migrant parents from children, including infants, at the U.S. southern border. Here is a partial list of the institutions and individuals speaking out.

Trudeau, Pope and even other Republicans denounced short-lived policy

Salvadoran migrant Epigmenio Centeno holds the hand of his three-year-old son Steven Atonay in Ciudad Juarez after he decided to stay with his children in Mexico due to U.S. President Donald Trump's child separation policy. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

Outrage continued to grow around the world over the Trump administration's short-lived policy — which was reversed by executive order on Wednesday — of separating migrant parents from children, including infants, at the U.S. southern border.

Here is a partial list of the institutions and individuals speaking out against it.


Members of Trump's own party have denounced the policy.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said the president could stop the misery "with a phone call."

Senators John McCain, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins and James Lankford also spoke against the policy.

Sasse said in a statement on Facebook: "Family separation is wicked."

McCain, a former presidential candidate and sometimes vocal critic of Trump, tweeted to say the policy was "an affront to the decency of the American people, and contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded."

McCain's former senior strategist Steve Schmidt renounced his membership in the party on Wednesday, saying he became a member of a party founded to oppose slavery "and stand for the dignity of human life." Schmidt, who also advised president George W. Bush and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said: "Today, I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump."

Religious organizations

The Pope, in an interview published Wednesday by Reuters, said he supported recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents "contrary to our Catholic values" and "immoral."

He also posted pointed tweets in support of refugees.

A reporter for Religion News Service has been maintaining a running Twitter thread that details dozens of organizations and individuals from a variety of religious denominations who have formally or informally condemned the policy.

Among those on the list: a group of more than 600 members of Attorney General Jeff Sessions's own church who have denounced him over the policy.

Members of the United Methodist Church from across the country signed a letter Monday accusing Sessions of child abuse, immorality and racial discrimination. They also chided Sessions for using biblical scripture to defend the policy, saying it runs counter to the church's doctrine.

International outcry

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday called the policy "unacceptable" and told reporters that what is going on in the United States is wrong.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.S. is wrong to separate migrant children from their parents, but she rejected calls to cancel Tump's scheduled visit to Britain next month. May said Wednesday that images of children in cages were "deeply disturbing. This is wrong. This is not something that we agree with." Opposition lawmakers rebuked May for not criticizing the Trump administration in stronger terms.

Mexico's governmental human rights commission said the policy is "appalling and immoral." Commission president Luis Gonzalez Perez on Wednesday called the Trump administration cruel and said the policy is hurting children.

Iran's leader criticized the Trump administration in comments published on his official website Wednesday.

"Seeing the images of the crime of separating thousands of children from their mothers in America makes a person exasperated," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to his website. "But the Americans separate the children from the immigrant parents with complete maliciousness." 

Khamenei regularly denounces U.S. government actions and has stepped up criticism after Trump withdrew from an agreement last month that gave Iran some relief from international sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.


Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and Mark Hamill are among the celebrities decrying the policy.

Former lawmakers

A group of 75 former U.S. attorneys from both parties called on Sessions to end the policy. Their letter, published Monday on Medium, said it results in families and children being greeted "with unexpected cruelty at the doorstep of the United States."

The unfolding tragedy falls squarely on your shoulders.- 75 former U.S. attorneys

"Traumatizing children by separating them from their parents as a deterrent for adult conduct is, in our view, sufficient reason to halt your policy," they wrote, adding that the legal work required to prosecute misdemeanor illegal entry cases takes away from more significant offences like terror-related plots, corruption and human and drug trafficking.

"As former U.S. attorneys, we know that none of these consequences — nor the policy itself — is required by law. Rather, its implementation and its execution are taking place solely at your direction, and the unfolding tragedy falls squarely on your shoulders." 

Barack Obama

Former president Barack Obama wrote an impassioned Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon about families being "broken apart in real time."

"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 wrote.


Two of the biggest U.S. airlines said Wednesday they refuse to carry children seized by immigration agents to far-flung holding centres: 

American Airlines said the policy is "not at all aligned" with the company's values.

"We have no desire to be associated with separating families — or, worse, to profit from it," the airline said in a statement explaining that it is one of the airlines the government uses for travel, without always disclosing the nature of the flights.

"We have therefore requested the federal government to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy". 

The chief executive of United Airlines made the same request, calling the policy in "deep conflict" with company's mission. "We want no part of it," Oscar Nunoz said in a statement.

Discount flier Frontier Airlines also said it "will not knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families. At this time, we are not aware if Frontier has been used for this purpose."

With files from The Associated Press


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