The world continues to standby as horrifying accounts—and sound bites of children screaming—from the immigration “processing centers” at the U.S. border, where children are being detained after being taken from their parents, continue to emerge. According to the Department of Homeland Security, at least 1,995 children have been separated since the implementation of President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, from April 19 to May 31.
Now, four living former first ladies—Rosalynn Carter, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama—have publicly denounced the administration’s policy. Bush addressed the abusive behavior in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Sunday.
“I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart,” she wrote, comparing the conditions to those at Japanese American internment camps during World War II.
Obama supported Bush on Twitter, writing, “Sometimes truth transcends party."
Carter also released a statement, calling the policy “disgraceful.” “When I was first lady, I worked to call attention to the plight of refugees fleeing Cambodia for Thailand. I visited Thailand and witnessed firsthand the trauma of parents and children separated by circumstances beyond their control,” she said. “The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents’ care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country.”
According to NBC News, Hillary Clinton—Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election and a Methodist—followed suit at a women’s group event on Monday in New York, calling the practice “an affront to our values” and criticizing the remarks of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who each justified the policy by referencing the Bible.
“Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenet of Christianity,” Clinton said. “These policies are not rooted in religion. What is being done using the name of religion is contrary to everything I was ever taught.”
Meanwhile, First Lady Melania Trump has not directly spoken against her husband’s policy, though her communications director Stephanie Grisham released a statement on her behalf on Sunday. “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,” Grisham told CNN. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a county that governs with heart.”
The United Nations has also denounced Trump’s policy. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, released a statement on his behalf on Monday. “As a matter of principle, the Secretary-General believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law,” it read. “Children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved.”
VIDEO: Nearly 2,000 Children Have Been Separated From Their Families During Trump Border Crackdown
At the opening of a Human Rights Council session, U.N. Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called the policy “unconscionable,” according to The Washington Post.
Other American politicians have taken to social media to share their thoughts as well. Arizona Senator John McCain said the policy is “contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded,” while California Senator Kamala Harris has called for the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen, who has staunchly defending the practice of separating families.
A senior administration official at the Department of Health and Human Services expects the Trump administration to hold 30,000 immigrant children by August, according to the Washington Examiner. Congress is expected to review two immigration reform bills this week.