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Compassionate Conservatism Collapses Under Trump and Stewart

The Republican Party, which was once a party that favored family values and supported strengthening families, has officially morally collapsed under the leadership of President Donald Trump, and now Corey Stewart here in Virginia.

Over the last week Americans, thanks to the print and TV media, have seen what can be described as child internment camps as the children of migrant families have been ripped away from their parents and placed in tents and cages. These images and cries of children are nothing but child abuse and anyone who refuses to call it that is not just lacking compassion, but also inhumane.

As a teacher if I were to lock up a child in a cage I would not just lose my teaching license, but I would be arrested.

The Trump administration has attempted to use the Bible as a way to defend the indefensible of this migrant policy which is not a congressionally passed law. As someone who has traveled and studied in the Holy Land, I’m reminded of what the Bible says about children:

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” –Mark 9:37

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’ ” –Matthew 18: 1-5

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ ” –Luke 18:16

Misusing the Bible to defend a policy that is damaging families and children is offensive and horrendous. We have seen some evangelical leaders speak out against this approach; however, not the leaders that vigorously support President Trump. Virginia’s own Jerry Falwell Jr. continues to be supportive of the President and his actions when Falwell retweeted this from Fox News:

Sadly Falwell, who is president of a religious institution of higher education, didn’t say anything about using the Bible to defend this policy.

Another significant evangelical leader who supports President Trump, Pastor Mark Burns, blames the “Fake News” and tweeted support of the President’s actions.

Once again the silence of using the Bible as a defense is shocking.

Under the leadership of President Trump, this inhumane policy of separating children from their parents is shocking; however, it’s not just President Trump who supports this policy, but also newly minted Virginia GOP U.S. Senate nominee Corey Stewart.

On Sunday evening Mr. Stewart appeared on the KasieDC Show [6] on MSNBC and, when asked about what the Trump Administration was doing, Mr. Stewart began by implying that it was not President Trump who is the one separating the children, but rather the Democrats, which is false.

“The fact is,” Stewart said, “we do have to enforce the law … otherwise, we are going to have another humanitarian crisis at the border like we did a few years ago. A lot of those children came into my county, I know everything about it. We don’t want to have that happen, we have to send a signal to everybody else south of the border that if you come to the United States illegally you are going to get arrested – and yes, your children are going to be temporarily separated from you. But as soon as you go home you will be reunited.”

When asked if the policy is more important than the children, Mr. Stewart answered unequivocally,  “Absolutely!” Additionally, he was asked if this immigration policy was moral. “It is an unavoidable policy,” he responded.

What Mr. Stewart misses is that this torture of children was avoidable in that this is a policy that President Trump created and has carried out. There is a significant lack of moral leadership from the Republican Party and it’s this policy that highlights that.

Back when he was president, George W. Bush sought to bring compassionate conservatism to the American people. Part of that approach was dealing with the issue of immigration while working for passage of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 [7], also known as the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 [8].

At the time Reuters [9] reported, “The bill tied tough border security and workplace enforcement measures to a plan to legalize an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, most from Latin America, and to create a temporary worker program, sought by business groups, for jobs that most American’s do not want to do.”

Had the bill became law, Reuters continued, it would have created a merit-based system for future immigrants, something conservative Republicans sought. Sadly, President Bush was unable to overcome fierce opposition from fellow Republicans who said it was an amnesty that rewarded illegal immigrants. A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives also opposed the Senate bill.

The defeat of the Bill was the last best chance for comprehensive immigration reform from a compassionate conservative approach. Each day it’s becoming clear that under the leadership of President Trump and now Corey Stewart that compassionate conservatism has collapsed and lays in ruins.

If you call yourself a Compassionate Conservative, you must denounce the President and Mr. Stewart for supporting a policy that is torture, inhumane, and psychologically damaging to children and the parents of those children.

If you are still on the fence, I ask you to listen to children who’ve just been separated from their parents at the boarder, courtesy of ProPublica [10], and maybe it will move you off the fence in support of strong families by keeping them together.

See also Rep. Taylor Statement on Family Separation on the Border [11]

Cover photo: Courtesy of U.S. Border Patrol. Detention facility located in McAllen, TX.