"This is a statement about human decency, plain and simple"

By Adam Carlson
June 27, 2019 12:05 PM
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Highlights, Donald Trump
Credit: Highliights Magazine; Oliver Contreras/For The Washington Post via Getty

In an unusual and impassioned public plea this week, the children’s magazine Highlights condemned President Donald Trump‘s policy of splitting up immigrant families and called on others to “join us in speaking out.”

“This is not a political statement about immigration policy,” the magazine’s parent company CEO, Kent Johnson, said Tuesday.

“This is a statement about human decency, plain and simple,” Johnson continued. “This is a plea for recognition that these are not simply the children of strangers for whom others are accountable.”

He noted that Highlights‘ “core belief, stated each month … is that ‘Children are the world’s most important people.’ This is a belief about ALL children.”

“With this core belief in our minds and hearts, we denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their families and urge our government to cease this activity, which is unconscionable and causes irreparable damage to young lives,” he said.

Johnson’s statement ended: “We invite you—regardless of your political leanings—to join us in speaking out against family separation and to call for more humane treatment of immigrant children currently being held in detention facilities. Write, call, or email your government representatives.

“Let our children draw strength and inspiration from our collective display of moral courage. They are watching.”

As The Washington Post notes, the magazine, which began publishing in 1946 and has since expanded into a suite of products and publications, has eschewed controversial topics. But it previously drew liberal ire over being slow to publish images of same-sex couples.

In his Tuesday statement, CEO Johnson said, “As a company that helps children become their best selves—curious, creative, caring, and confident—we want kids to understand the importance of having moral courage.”

He continued: “Moral courage means standing up for what we believe is right, honest, and ethical—even when it is hard.”

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Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take them into custody on June 12, 2018, near McAllen, Texas.

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President Trump has repeatedly argued the family separation policy did not start under him, which is false, and he officially ended it last summer following intense public outcry.

His administration had been prosecuting nearly everyone who entered the country illegally and removing children from those migrant parents to place them into government care, according to the New York Times.

Despite the policy’s official end last year, however, the government has reportedly continued to separate migrant families, citing other justifications.

It remains unclear just how many migrant children have been separated from their families, though the number is likely much higher than the roughly 3,000 released by the government, according to Times.

Trump has made cracking down on both legal and illegal immigration a centerpiece of his administration, arguing that without such policies the country would face a sea of violence, drugs and other crime from the southern border. He has also charged that the U.S. immigration system is essentially broken and without reforms too many migrants will continue seeking new lives in the country.

Trump has blamed Democrats for refusing to cede to his policy demands. In turn, his government has faced sustained criticism about the inhumanity of his response.

Earlier this week, a photo circulated widely of a young father and his toddler daughter who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande river into the U.S. after leaving El Salvador for more economic opportunity.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday he “hate[d]” the image.

But, he said, “I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law. They have to change the laws. And then that father, who probably was this wonderful guy, with his daughter, things like that wouldn’t happen.”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly said, “That’s a disgrace. Mr. President, you are president of the United States. You are head of the Executive Branch. You control what’s happening at the border.”