As fury over Trump-era immigration policies that separate parents and children on the southern U.S. border continues, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is weighing in, calling the situation “horrible” and “tragic.”
“What we’re watching now is heart-rending, and again I wouldn’t want to be on that side, but thank god I’m not there,” the 63-year-old CEO said Tuesday about news that roughly 2,000 children have been separated as a result of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration. Under those new guidelines, all adults who enter the U.S. illegally are to be criminally prosecuted—leading to the separation of parent and offspring.
“I couldn’t do obviously what has been done now,” Blankfein said at an Economic Club of New York luncheon.
In the wake of photos and audio of immigrant children, some of whom were being held away from their guardians by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, lawmakers from both parties have condemned the policy, as have companies such as Microsoft and Airbnb, with Apple CEO Tim Cook calling the policy “inhumane.”
Despite the criticism and polls showing that most Americans stand against the policy, Trump has remained firm, falsely blaming Democrats for the separations. In a Tuesday speech to small business owners, Trump then explained why the separations were necessary: “I don’t want children taken away from parents, and when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally — which should happen — you have to take the children away.”
In his speech Tuesday, Blankfein who previously spoke out against Trump’s immigration ban in January, noted that that the issue is a tough one with no easy fix.
“It’s right against right,” he said of the two sides of the immigration argument, pointing to Germany where a lax immigration policy is said to have fueled the rise of the far-right in politics there. Now, the country is determining how exactly to manage the million-plus migrants that have entered the country since 2015, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own position under threat for her open borders stance.
“It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to say what you would do if you didn’t have to bear the consequences for what you decided,” Blankfein said, adding that he had yet to see T.V. commenters talk about the consequences of millions of people appearing at the U.S. southern border. “But when you have to bear the consequences… that’s what’s tough.”
He continued: “That why I have a lot of sympathy for the people making the decision making. So when something doesn’t quite work out I right, I don’t want to go out and kill the person who made the decision… I wouldn’t want to be in the position we find our government in now, in respect to the tragedy that’s going on at the border.”