What strikes me most about the disjuncture in many people’s responses to Trump’s new policy towards immigration and its effect on family separation is how people so quickly fall into neat lines now regardless of the content of the policy or the ethical/moral nature of the issue at question. Our responses reflect how completely inured we have become to the political and ideological divide as normal in U.S. politics. Case and point:

Audio of kids being separated from their families at the border, crying for Daddy and visited by their consular officer to make decisions as a six-year old? Cue tape: (1) “Well, you know, it’s not a new policy–it happened under Obama. And the “Dems” are just obstructionist which means that you can’t do anything about the “law”. Besides, they are ILLEGAL! and BORDERS!” vs. (2) “That’s NOT true! It IS a new Trumpian policy–he’s lying! Sessions changed the policy and Dems aren’t in control! And, NOT ILLEGAL–LEGAL! and ASYLUM!” What?! How did attention to the issue of separating young kids from their parents crossing the border, whether ‘illegally’ or not, become part of this?

Who cares whether it *was* an Obama policy? He’s not the President right now. And *his* policy is not the same as law and thus can be easily changed with Trump policy. Who cares if it was a *law* approved under Dems or something that is legislatively their fault? Republicans control Congress and the Presidency–it should be easy to fix. Or the President could use Executive Order immediately. It would immediately become and remain policy unless/until challenged in court and adjudicated.

I’m not sure how we all became drowned in the automatic “but Obama”, “but Dems”, or “Republicans” such that crying kids became political fodder immediately.

The problem is, in fact, pretty simple: approximately 70 young children are being separated from and detained in centers away from their parents each day. Their parents are often detained. Children are ripped away from their parents in a strange place, even as infants, and kept with other young children in places with fences.

Regardless of anyone’s excuse or who is to blame, this is just plain wrong–morally. It doesn’t matter whether or when it was enacted as a law or policy–Trump has the ability to change it with a stroke of the pen, right now. He certainly has not been averse to using this power to dramatically execute Executive Orders in pursuit of policy aims related to immigration before. He could even criminally detain families together if he wanted to sign an order to that effect. He could also claim credit for ‘ending’ the ‘inhumane policies’ of others if he wanted to play politics that way. At the end of the day, it is ALL still in Trump’s hands. Kids shouldn’t be ripped away from their mothers and fathers. They continue to be, at the rate of 70 per day. And he has done nothing. Why? Because he can’t? Because he suddenly needs the Republican-controlled Congress to lead? Who are somehow hampered by Democrats that have no power?

Here’s a revolutionary idea: kids shouldn’t be ripped away from their mothers and fathers to prove a point. It’s the moral equivalent of using kids as human shields. Regardless of law or politics, it is morally reprehensible. And Trump could easily stop it with a stoke of a pen. So why isn’t he?

—Anna-Liisa Aunio