Willie Nelson Calls Trump Administration "Zero Tolerance" Immigration Policy "Outrageous"

Willie Nelson SXSW 2 2014 L
iTunes Festival at SXSW

"Christians everywhere should be up in arms," said Nelson about the policy that is separating families.

Willie Nelson has joined the growing chorus of artists, activists, religious figures and politicians who are decrying the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that has resulted in the separation of hundreds of migrant children from their parents at the southern U.S. border. The Texas native and country music icon issued a statement on Thursday night (June 14) in which he wrote, "What's going on at our southern border is outrageous. Christians everywhere should be up in arms. What happened to 'Bring us your tired and weak and we will make them strong?' This is still the promise land."

The reference to "promise land" in the statement, first reported by Rolling Stone, is a reference to lyrics from songwriter David Lynn Jones' "Living in the Promiseland," which Nelson recorded on his 1986 The Promiseland album. Back in 2014, Nelson told the magazine that the situation at the Mexico-Texas border was something he'd been keeping an eye on, offering that the most important priority was taking care of the children. 

"The only thing we can do is take care of those kids, whatever it takes. They're scared. They're being mistreated," Nelson told RS. "And it's not a good way to start off your life. But it's a good opportunity for us to show a little bit of humanitarianism and take care of those kids. I know a lot of people want to send them back. I guess the closer you are to the situation, the more extreme emotions you have about it, but it seems to me the old golden rule, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' or 'treat other people like you want to be treated' … Treat those kids like they were your kids."

Also on Thursday, model Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend joined Nelson in protesting the administration's actions by donating $288,000 to the ACLU in honor of Trump's 72nd birthday.  "John and I are outraged to see and hear the horror stories of immigrant families seeking asylum and refuge in America being ripped apart due to the inhumane policies of the Trump administration," Teigen tweeted. "These actions are cruel, anti-family and go against everything we believe this country should represent."

On Thursday, attorney general Jeff Sessions cited the bible in defense of the administration's policy, saying that having children does not give migrants immunity from prosecution under American law. In addition to talk of building tent cities on a number of military bases to house the children — many of whom are now being detained in an abandoned Wal-Mart store — Sessions doubled down during a talk to a group of law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Thursday by saying that migrant parents were to blame for their families being torn apart. 

"Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order," said Sessions. "Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.” Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office spoke out against the policy that was first announced on May 7, saying, "The practice of separating families amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child."

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.