PARIS (Reuters) - Europe and the United States do not share the same values, France’s government spokesman said on Tuesday as outrage grows over the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant parents and children arriving over the border from Mexico.
The European Union faces its own crisis over how to handle a years-long influx of migrants fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East and spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said he did not want to see what is happening in the United States occur in Europe.
“We do not share the same model of civilization, clearly we don’t share certain values,” Griveaux told France 2 television.
The furor over the detained children stems from U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, in which migrants apprehended entering the United States illegally are criminally charged.
Parents who are referred by border guards for prosecutions are held in federal jail, while their children are sent to separate detention facilities, some in remote locations.
Video footage released by the government showed migrant children held in wire cages, sitting on concrete floors. U.S. Democrats blasted the treatment as “barbaric”, and even some conservative commentators have expressed alarm.
“These images are shocking,” Griveaux said.
Trump administration officials say the tough approach is necessary to secure the border and deter illegal immigration.
Europe’s migration crisis has increasingly defined regional politics. In Italy an anti-establishment government now holds power, and in Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition is fighting for survival over the migration issue.
A row over the fate of 629 migrants aboard a rescue ship last week exposed flaws in the EU’s efforts to handle the migration influx and flung the issue back to the top of the agenda after Merkel’s junior coalition partner gave her until a June 28-29 summit to get a migration deal.
Trump sought to exploit the political uncertainty in Germany on Monday, sending a tweet full of inaccuracies deriding the country, a highly unusual attack on an ally.
“Crime in Germany is way up,” he wrote in the tweet, although crime statistics show that is false.
“Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!” Trump added, despite no evidence that European culture has been “strongly and violently” changed by migration.
Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Luke Baker