Tina Nabatchi, a leading scholar on citizen participation, collaborative governance and conflict resolution, and on challenges in public administration, has been named the inaugural Joseph A. Strasser Endowed Professor in Public Administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public…
All Five First Ladies Condemn Family Separation At Border, But What Will That Do?
First Lady Melania Trump and the four First Ladies before her have all come out condemning the family-separation immigration policy. In addition to issuing statements, the First Ladies have relied on traditional and social media to share their perspectives – such as Laura Bush who wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post on Sunday.
Anthony D’Angelo teaches public relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Professor D’Angelo says the decision by Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Bush to speak out in a similar manner is noteworthy because their harmony comes in a time of “awful disharmony” within the Republican Party.
“What’s noteworthy about Melania Trump and her predecessor Laura Bush speaking out about this profoundly emotional matter, is that their harmony occurs in a time of awful disharmony—even between pairs of Republican leaders and their spouses (as neither Bush president supported Trump). The ladies’ statements speak to a more universal and human ethic. What could be more worthy of support and protection than the bond between parents and their children?
“Yet, the border policy remains, at least for now. Children are indeed separated from their parents due to U.S. policy, which both sides of the aisle claim ‘they hate’ and blame the other party for. The political and rhetorical battle, then, has shifted to ‘what needs to happen to fix this?’ Melania’s statement, issued through her official spokesperson, enables the president to reference her point of view positively, and bridge to his own message point that if the Democrats would work with the Republicans on immigration reform he could enable change to happen.
“No one would want to be seen as on the side of separating families, and there’s no risk in anyone saying they are against an atrocity. The risk here to the president’s statements thus far is the possibility of broad and powerful criticism that the children are tragic pawns in a political battle when human decency is the core issue. Until the policy is changed, I don’t see the First Ladies’ statements as doing much to quell the controversy.”
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