Franklin Graham criticizes Trump policy of separating families at border

Evangelist Franklin Graham on Wednesday slammed the Trump administration's policy that separates families at the U.S.–Mexico border, calling it "disgraceful" and a product of lawmakers' failures over the past few decades. 

"It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit," Graham, a notable ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE's and son of the prominent evangelist Billy Graham said on the Christian Broadcasting Network. 

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The "zero tolerance" policy, announced by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court nomination reignites abortion fight in states | Trump urges Sessions to sue opioid makers | FDA approves first generic version of EpiPen Connect Beltway to America to get federal criminal justice reform done Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE last month, calls for separating migrants who are apprehended at the southern border from their children in order to prosecute parents for crossing into the U.S. illegally. 

Sessions has called the practice a way to deter illegal immigration but the Department of Homeland Security has said the policy is not intended for deterrence.

The policy has faced intense scrutiny from critics who have called it cruel and blamed it for overwhelming courts and U.S. attorneys' offices. The practice occurs before a parent is convicted and is carried out regardless of whether a migrant is seeking asylum.

Democrats' and immigrants' rights groups have aimed criticism at the Trump administration, though Trump has blamed Democrats for the separations, arguing that the policy was in place before he took office.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) defended the administration's policy, though Cruz also said Trump was responsible for the ongoing separations.

Graham, instead, admonished all lawmakers for decades of negligence.

"I blame politicians for the last 20, 30 years that have allowed this to escalate to the point where it is today," Graham said. "We are a country of a laws, laws need to be obeyed, no question about that, but the situation we have today as a result of our lawmakers in Washington over generations ignoring this." 

Reuters reported that about 1,800 families were separated at the U.S.–Mexico border from October 2016 to February 2018. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have officially acknowledged that more than 2,400 children were separated from their families during the nearly 17-month period.

Graham recently finished a 10-rally tour in California where he urged Christians to vote in the primaries in an effort to combat progressive policy in the state. 

On that tour, Graham told The New York Times that Christians could "turn the tide" against California's so-called "sanctuary state" policies aimed at restricting cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

“But you are beginning to see a groundswell of revolt out here. Orange County, San Diego County, are beginning to take on Governor [Jerry] Brown. It’s good for Christians to capitalize on that. So yeah, we could help turn the tide,” he told the Times.