"They didn't change this policy because they thought they were wrong," Colbert said of the Trump administration. "They changed it because it made 70 percent of Americans sick to their stomach."
After overwhelming backlash from virtually every segment of American society, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to effectively stop separating immigrant families at the border, but the late-night hosts want him to stop patting himself on the back for it.
After all, as they pointed out, this was a policy that he and his team implemented. Plus, the executive order that he signed isn't quite as clear cut as just solving the problem, everyone's happy, let's all go home now, who's hungry? How does Mexican sound?
They also railed against the members of his administration like Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen, who got booed out of a Mexican restaurant Wednesday night, for perpetuating the wall of lies Trump built to deflect responsibility for the policy on Congress and the Democrats.
This past week has been an emotional one for many, and those emotions were very close to the surface for many of the late-night hosts. Between the requisite jokes, you can see the anger and frustration and sadness on the faces of Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and James Corden, with some of them even making calls to action.
'Late Night with Seth Meyers'
Seth Meyers refused to even talk about Trump and his "zero tolerance" border policy during the monologue, saving all of it for a blistering and passionate "Closer Look."
"Trump's only political skill is his total and complete lack of shame, his malignant narcissism allows him to constantly and brazenly lie in a way that most other politicians would be too embarrassed to even try," Meyers said, setting the tone for the ten-minute segment.
He then proceeded to tear into Trump's policy, and his brazen attempt to take credit for "fixing" it. "Let's be clear about one thing. You don't get credit for solving a problem when you're the one who created the problem," he said. "You can't eat half a cheeseburger and say you're a vegan."
He then pointed out that this "zero tolerance" policy is the culmination of all the rhetoric Trump has been saying about immigrants for years, such as linking them to higher crime rates. He even lied about Germany's recent influx of immigrants causing a ten percent increase in crime there. Meyers followed up that video clip with the report from Germany saying their crime is at its lowest point since 1992.
"The through line of Trump's political career is blindingly clear. He concocts racist lies, uses dehumanizing language to justify cruelty towards immigrants and outsiders," Meyers said. "It wasn't an accident, it wasn't a law, it was a choice by Trump and his supporters.
In conclusion, he had a message for all those people upset, and saying that this is not who we are as a nation. "This is who we are," he said. "It might change tomorrow or the day after that, but today we are this. And you personally may not be this, but who we are is too often decided by those in power, which is why you vote. So remember, if you want who we are to match with who you are, you have to get up early and vote the next chance you have."
'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert'
"Our long national nightmare is changing," Colbert said about the latest development in Trump's border policy. "After weeks of separating families at the border and insisting that only Congress can solve the problem, this afternoon, the president looked deep into his heart and realized it was not there."
Actually, he was referring to Trump's executive order that will not authorize detaining immigrant families together. "Yes, however you slice it, Donald Trump has changed his mind and decided to keep families together," Colbert said. "And just in time, too. Melania was about to turn herself in at the border.
But what he also noticed was that Trump had only a few days ago said, "You can't do it through an executive order." And then he turned around and apparently did just that in a big signing ceremony where he said he was the only person with the "political courage" in the last 60 years to make this change.
"They didn't change this policy because they thought they were wrong. They changed it because it made 70 percent of Americans sick to their stomach," Colbert pointed out. "And make no mistake, Trump folded. He folded like an origami Trump casino."
'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'
A response was inevitable, though, because as Trevor Noah noted of the policy, "It has rightfully outraged pretty much every decent human being, and Ted Cruz."
He also noticed all the self-congratulatory behavior from Trump about ending his own policy. "Trump right now is like if Superman threw a meteor at the Earth and then stopped it himself," Noah joked. "Everyone would be like, 'Thanks, I guess?'"
He then took a look back through American history to show that we appear to be repeating some of our worst offenses, such as using the Bible to defend stripping people of their basic human rights. The Bible was often used as justification for slavery and certainly plenty of other atrocities even beyond the United States.
Another talking point from the Trump administration is the notion that immigrant children will grow up to be terrorists or join organizations like MS-13. "They're just dusting off xenophobia from the 1930s when Jewish children needed to come to America to escape Nazi Germany," Noah pointed out.
What about how Fox News described the nice facilities and amenities being offered to the immigrant children that have been taken from their parents? "This is the same type of excuse they used in the '40s to defend America's Japanese internment camps," Noah said, proving it with a propaganda clip from the era that sounded eerily familiar in its praise of the accommodations.
"Today's situation isn't the same, but the excuses sure sound familiar," Noah pointed out. "They're as old as America itself, which unfortunately makes them too old to be locked up in a 'tender age' shelter."
'Full Frontal with Samantha Bee'
On TBS, Samantha Bee described Trump's executive order as "the next worst thing" to the separation policy. "Yay, no more baby internment camps. Just regular internment camps. Cool. That's what we call a win in 2018," she lamented.
Under the new executive order, families will be detained together, with Trump looking to amend the Flores decision so families could be detained together longer than 20 days, as reported by NBC News, and possibly indefinitely.
So this isn't necessarily a viable long-term solution, but rather a stop-gap measure to quell the outrage and at least stop the separations from happening. There is also no provision in Trump's current order to reunite those families that have been separated as a result of Trump's original policy.
"Any solution to this problem has to start from the premise that children should not go to jail," Bee pointed out. "I know, I know, I know. I'm such a radical leftist."
'The Late Late Show with James Corden'
James Corden isn't even in the United States this week, filming a week of episodes from London, but the news and images have certainly reached him there. He hadn't said much of anything about, but set a side a segment on Wednesday's show to talk about it, and he chose to do so with absolutely no jokes.
In fact, he looked like he was choking up at a few points. And like Seth Meyers, his message was a call for action.
"Part of my job on a daily show is, often we'll come out and we'll talk about the news. But at the moment the news is pretty tough to talk about," Corden said. "Being away from America, being here, hasn't kept any of us from paying attention to what's going on in America right now.
"And I'm sure you will have seen these images. Images of families being forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, immigrant children laying in cages. It's nothing short of horrific. I don't think this is an American political issue, I think this is simply a human decency issue."
He concluded his message by saying that "rather than sit here and tell you about something that you already know is awful, we thought that it would be more productive to tell you what you could do to help these families be reunited."
He then talked about the work that RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) does providing legal services to illegal immigrants and paying their bonds so the parents can be released from jail and reunited with their children.
"Immigrant children are children and immigrant parents are parents and every child deserves to be with their parents," Corden said.