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‘This heartless policy’: Echoing his sister-in-law, Jeb Bush speaks out against forced migrant family separations

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush at a conference in Berlin in 2015. He has criticized the Trump administration’s forced separation of migrant children from their families at the southern U.S. border. (Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and onetime Republican presidential hopeful, on Monday chided President Trump for pursuing a “heartless policy” of forced separation of migrant children from their families at the southern U.S. border.

Taking to Twitter, Bush also accused Trump of trying to use the plight of the migrant children as “a negotiating tool” to advance his own priorities on immigration with Congress, echoing a criticism leveled by many Democrats in recent days.

With his tweet, the former governor became the second member of the Bush clan to knock the Trump administration for family separations in as many days.

Former first lady Laura Bush — Jeb Bush’s sister-in-law — wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that was highly critical of the current Republican administration.

“I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel,” Laura Bush wrote. “It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

Trump and others in the administration have falsely blamed the separations on a law the president claims was written by Democrats. But the separations instead largely stem from a “zero-tolerance” policy announced with fanfare last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The White House also has interpreted a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families — a posture not taken by the administrations of George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

In his tweet, Jeb Bush also plugged the idea of providing a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” — a group whose fate is in jeopardy because of another Trump policy change.

Trump has moved to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the initiative spearheaded by Obama to give temporary protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. But he has also indicated a willingness to sign legislation to offer the same protections in exchange for the funding of his border wall and other priorities.