The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border as “unconscionable” on Monday.
“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in Geneva on Monday. “I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children.”
The human rights leader also linked the US policy with Hungary’s recent moves to crack down on its border to make a broader case for human rights for immigrants.
“People do not lose their human rights by virtue of crossing a border without a visa,” he said. “I deplore the adoption by many countries of policies intended to make themselves as inhospitable as possible by increasing the suffering of many already vulnerable people.”
The statement comes amid growing backlash against the Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance policy toward immigrants who attempt to illegally cross into the US. As part of the policy, all immigrants arrested for attempted illegal crossing, including those traveling with young children, are now being referred for federal prosecution.
The strict policy has caused the separation at least 2,000 children from their parents, Department of Homeland Security officials said last week. The issue has animated Trump’s critics as well as some prominent Republicans, including former first lady Laura Bush and former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
“It’s an atrocious policy,” Scaramucci said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday. “It’s inhumane. It’s offensive to the average American.”
CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.