The UN Human Rights Commissioner just issued an unprecedented demand of Trump

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The United Nations human rights office is demanding the United States “immediately halt” its appalling policy of separating children from their families after they cross the border without proper documentation.

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A spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, said there is “nothing normal about detaining children,” and charged that “border control appears to take precedence over child protection and care in the U.S.,” according to the Associated Press.

The use of immigration detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human rights standards and principles,” Shamdasani said during a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland. “The child’s best interest should always come first.”

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Anger has been mounting since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero tolerance” policy in early May, which means anyone who crosses the border without permission is considered a criminal, even if that person is seeking asylum because they are fleeing a terrible situation in their home country.

Under the Obama policy, a person who asked for asylum and made the case that returning home would be dangerous would be allowed in the U.S. until there was a hearing on their case.

Trump blames the Democrats for instituting the policy of separating parents, who are considered criminals, from children as young as toddlers, but it is his policy that has created the humanitarian crisis, and his administration that can’t even keep track of over 1,500 children who have been taken away.

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The U.N. human rights office wants everyone who is captured at the border and is not a drug smuggler or criminal not to be charged with a crime but with an administrative offense.

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The U.N. said children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parent’s immigration status. 

Shamdasani called the Trump administration practice a “serious violation” of the rights of children, adding that: “There is nothing normal about detaining children.”

The Trump administration response is that the U.S. is the most generous country in the world when other countries have disasters or other events that cause disruption.

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Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. responded angrily that “Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its borders.”

Haley speaks for open racists Trump and Sessions, but she certainly doesn’t speak for everyone in America or in the Congress. 

The treatment of immigrants is a growing political issue that appears likely to be a major part of the debate about what kind of America we want as the nation moves toward the midterm elections in November. 

Many Democrats, who also want secure borders, want to see a return to the era when human rights also mattered to the American government, and seek ways to achieve a middle ground between the immigrant crisis and the American dream. 

America is a country built by immigrants and always will be. Trump and his white supremacist allies are destroying our great tradition of the cultural melting pot and harming thousands of children in the process. Trump’s immigration policies are beyond inhumane and we should be ashamed as a nation that we’ve allowed things to get this bad.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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