Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his strategists are specifically targeting children and committing government-sponsored child abuse by separating thousands of migrant children from their parents to gain political leverage.

Read that again.

Trump already had shown his willingness to go after kids by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in an effort to force Democrats to fund his proposed border wall. When that didn’t work, the president and his strategists decided to take it up a notch and go after migrant children by separating them from their parents and placing them—literally—in detention camps.

This is all with the hope that Democrats—and some Republicans—will cave to the administration’s repressive demands on immigration.

According to The Washington Post, citing an unnamed White House official, “The president has told folks that in lieu of the laws being fixed, he wants to use the enforcement mechanisms that we have.” The official added: “The thinking in the building is to force people to the table.”

In just six weeks starting in mid-April, nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

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But with midterm elections around the corner this November, there is little chance that broad immigration reform legislation will be passed in the short-term. This means that the Trump administration is committed to continuing its abusive and horrendous policy of ripping children away from their parents as a long-term strategy.

Officials also believe the policy will deter other migrants and asylum-seekers from attempting to make the journey to the United States. As the Post noted, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Trump adviser Stephen Miller all support the family separation policy. And, of course, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was the one who announced the “zero tolerance” policy last April. This week, facing a public backlash, Sessions tried to justify it again by quoting the Bible.

But there’s a big problem politically: Even many Trump supporters are troubled by the president’s use of children as political leverage, which child psychologists say will cause them lasting harm.

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From the Post:

“There’s definitely a groundswell of opposition from virtually every corner of the Christian community,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “People are able to understand immediately the drive of parents to protect their child and to understand the horror of splitting up vulnerable children from their parents.”

Some prominent Trump supporters from the religious community already have called the family separation policy “horrible,” “terrible,” and “disgraceful.”

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Trump has realized he has a problem here, so his immediate reaction has been to lie, lie, and lie again. Most of these lies entail blaming the Democrats for the policy he and Sessions enacted. On Friday at the White House, Trump said, “I hate the children being taken away.” Then, he blamed the Democrats for his own administration’s policy.

In a tweet the same day, he said, “The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda. Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!”

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But lying about the Democrats probably won’t be enough to counter the ongoing rage over migrant children being torn from their families. So, on Saturday, Trump reverted back to an older tactic of stoking the fear of violent street gangs among his base and linking MS-13 to the Democrats.

In his weekly address Saturday, Trump accused Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of protecting MS-13 gang members, whom the president referred to as “ vile savages” and “animals.”

“MS-13 gang members are truly, and you’ve heard me say it, animals—and yet Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats continue to protect them and to push for open borders,” he said.

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This man is truly ill.