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(CNN) —  

The big missing element for President Donald Trump and his allies in the family separation crisis boils down to a single word: Compassion.

And on Friday morning, “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade expressed that lack of compassion remarkably clearly. Here’s what he said (per Mediaite):

“Like it or not, these aren’t our kids. Show them compassion, but it’s not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas. These are people from another country and now people are saying that they’re more important than people in our country who are paying taxes and who have needs as well.”

“These aren’t our kids.” Wowza.

Here’s the thing: There’s no question that the parents of these children are trying to enter the country illegally. But it’s simply not that cut and dried. Many are fleeing persecution in their native countries, seeking asylum in the United States. And all love their kids and are, for the most part, just trying to do right by them. (This obviously doesn’t hold for smugglers trying to use children to get into the US.)

These children have committed no crime. They don’t know any better. All they know is that one minute they were with their parents and the next they were with a stranger – and often being flown to some far-off locale where they know no one.

Take it out of this circumstance. Let’s say you are walking around a grocery store and you see a 5-year-old boy walking alone and crying. Do you think:

a) “I wonder if this boy and his parents are legally in the country and therefore one of ‘our kids’”

OR

b) “This poor little boy is lost. I have to help him find his mother.”

Unless you’re Voldemort, you always choose “B.” Because the priority isn’t whether this kid is “one of ours” but rather that the kid is lost and scared. Basic human decency takes over.

Kilmeade appears to have missed that memo, choosing instead to cast this entire crisis as an “us” versus “them” thing. In his logic, you can treat kids who aren’t from the United States differently than kids who are from here. The implicit idea: Those kids are lesser, so we can treat them that way.

Kilmeade later apologized for the comment via Twitter. “Of course-I didn’t mean to make it seem like children coming into the U.S. illegally are less important because they live in another country,” he tweeted. “I have compassion for all children, especially for all the kids separated from their parents right now.”

Trump himself has sought to downplay the human element of this crisis – as recently as Friday morning on Twitter. He tweeted:

“We must maintain a Strong Southern Border. We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections. Obama and others had the same pictures, and did nothing about it!”

By casting all of the stories of children being separated from their parents as “phony,” Trump is reinforcing the exact sentiment that Kilmeade is voicing: These people aren’t really upset! This is all cooked up by the Democrats to try to make you feel bad. This is a total sham and a scam.

Which is incredibly dangerous – because it foments the idea that these people at the border are something worthy of our contempt and our anger, not our compassion. That they aren’t like us, that they are just a bunch of criminals, gang members and scammers – all trying to get into this country by breaking the rules.

What that view overlooks is that children are children all around the world – naive, innocent and worthy of our protection whether they come from Texas, Tijuana or Thailand.