Following a report exposing the inhumane conditions at President Donald Trump's immigrant detention center in Clint, Texas, Highlights Magazine CEO Kent Johnson issued a statement condemning family separation at the border. He called on readers to contact their government representatives to halt the practice in the name of "human decency."
"As a company that helps children become their best selves -- curious, creative, caring, and confident -- we want kids to understand the importance of having moral courage. Moral courage means standing up for what we believe is right, honest, and ethical -- even when it is hard," Johnson wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
"Our company's core belief, stated each month in Highlights magazine, is that 'Children are the world's most important people,'" he continued. "That is a belief about ALL children."
"With this core belief in our minds and hearts, we denounce the practice of separating immigrant children from their families and urge our government to cease this activity, which is unconscionable and causes irreparable damage to young lives," he said.
At Highlights, our core belief is that children are the world's most important people. In light of the reports of the living conditions of detained children & threats of further deportation & family separation, here is a statement from our CEO Kent Johnson. #KeepFamiliesTogether pic.twitter.com/CNF5LTv4az— Highlights (@Highlights) June 25, 2019
"This is not a political statement about immigration policy," he added. "This is a statement about human decency, plain and simple. This is a plea for recognition that these are not simply the children of strangers for whom others are accountable. This is an appeal to elevate the inalienable right of all children to feel safe and to have the opportunity to become their best selves."
"We invite you -- regardless of your political leanings -- to join us in speaking out against family separation and to call for more humane treatment of immigrant children currently being held in detention facilities," he urged. "Write, call, or email your government representatives."
"Let our children draw strength and inspiration from our collective display of moral courage. They are watching," he concluded.
The report, released last Friday, detailed the "inhuman conditions" in the Texas facility, where roughly 250 infants, children and teenagers were being held. "It's the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections," Professor Warren Binford told the Associated Press. "We're taking children away from their family at the border. We're putting them in inhumane conditions in Border Patrol facilities, where they shouldn't be at all, not even for a few hours. And that 72 hours, that's the maximum that someone is supposed to be kept there."
In the report, Binford and William Brangham described a facility that lacked adequate food, water or sanitation. They revealed how children as young as toddlers were left in the care of the older detainees, who are children themselves, and that "none of the children that we interviewed had come across the border themselves alone." "We're seeing a flu outbreak, and we're also seeing a lice infestation," Binford said.
Nevertheless, the facility will not accept donations, in part because of the Antideficiency Act, which forbids private donations. What's more, the Trump Administration argued in federal court that it should not be required to provide toothbrushes, soap, towels, showers or half a night's sleep to the detained children.
Johnson's statement comes four days after the report's initial release.