Last week, a congressional committee released a report stating, “The Trump Administration’s child separations were more harmful, traumatic, and chaotic than previously known.” Our elected officials have a moral and ethical obligation not only to speak out against these human rights violations, but to do something.

Over a year ago, Sen. Susan Collins said she was concerned about the practice of family separation, and was working on a bill to end it. However, when legislation was introduced to do just that, she opposed it. And the bill she said she was drafting to end family separation is nowhere to be found.

The conditions on the ground in the camps are heartbreaking. The AP report described this scene: “A 2-year-old boy locked in detention wants to be held all the time. A few girls, ages 10 to 15, say they’ve been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler who was handed to them by a guard days ago.” As these reports of horrifying conditions at the border make their way through the news, President Donald Trump tweeted. He told Sen. Collins’ colleagues in Congress to go back to their countries.

I’m reminded of Maine’s former beloved Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, who made her mark on history by taking a moral stand against the unethical practices and behavior of her party. It was a speech about “the four horsemen of calumny” — fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear.

Sen. Collins sent out a statement to the press blaming her colleagues, and suggesting the president delete his tweet. This is Sen. Collins’ “A Declaration of Conscience,” a presser blaming both sides.

Maine deserves representatives in Washington who will speak with moral clarity on this issue. Sen. Collins’ has spoken volumes.

 

Safiya Khalid

Lewiston

(The writer is a member of the State Committee of the Maine Democratic Party.)


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