40 Democratic Senators Call on Trump to End Family Separations at the Border

“We ask that your Administration rescind this unethical, ineffective, and inhumane policy.”

A migrant father and child, who traveled with the annual caravan of Central American migrants, wait to request asylum at the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico in April.Hans-Maximo Musielik/AP

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Forty Democratic senators are calling on President Donald Trump to end his administration’s “inhumane decision” to separate children from their parents at the border. The senators write that the using family separation to deter migrants “is not only frighteningly callous, but demonstrates willful ignorance of the violence and unlivable circumstances many families are risking their lives to escape.”

The letter, organized by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and sent to Trump on Thursday, comes after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month that the Justice Department will try to prosecute everyone who crosses the US-Mexico border without authorization, regardless of whether those people are seeking asylum from persecution.

The new policy splits up families by placing parents in jails, forcing children to be transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. After parents are released from jail, immigrant advocates complain that they are transferred to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers and still prevented from reuniting with their children.

The Democratic senators say the Trump administration is exacerbating the trauma that child migrants experience in their home countries and while traveling to the United States. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement last month that she was “appalled” by the move to separate families, adding that “highly stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm” to children.

Instead of holding people in detention, the senators argue that it would be more cost-effective and humane to use community-based programs that provide social services and legal resources to help increase appearance rates in immigration court. “We ask that your Administration rescind this unethical, ineffective, and inhumane policy and instead prioritize approaches that align with our humanitarian and American values,” they write.

Read the full letter below.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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