GOP senator calls on Trump to end 'cruel' family separation policy

GOP senator calls on Trump to end 'cruel' family separation policy
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GOP Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (Alaska) on Monday rebuked Trump administration officials who have defended separating migrant families at the border by saying they are enforcing laws approved by past administrations.

Murkowski called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE to end his administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which has led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents, calling it "cruel" and "tragic."

"While I have said that this is a policy discussion that needs to be had, in my view we should not have a policy designed to separate families, particularly mothers with young children, without a clear process and focus on the needs of the children," she said in a statement.

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"To blame previous administrations for a wrong committed today is not acceptable," she continued. "The Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security should make the call today. If the administration does not fix this and fast, we in Congress must."

Murkowski is the latest in a growing list of bipartisan lawmakers who have asked the White House to stop separating families who illegally cross the southern border.

Her comments come a short time after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenSomalis in US to keep protected status Hillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Maxine Waters defenders gather to counter far-right protest that doesn’t happen: report MORE and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fielded questions on the family separation issue during a press briefing.

The two women defended the policy by saying the current administration is merely enforcing laws that were already on the books, and put the onus on Congress to change those laws.

“Frankly, this law was actually signed into effect in 2008 under [then-first lady Laura Bush’s] husband’s leadership, not under this administration,” Sanders said.

“We’re not the ones responsible for creating this problem. We’ve inherited it,” she added. “But we’re actually the first administration stepping up and trying to fix it.” 

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein warns of growing cyber threat from Russia, other foreign actors Key GOP lawmaker throws cold water on Rosenstein impeachment With new immigration policy, Trump administration gutting the right to asylum MORE announced the policy earlier this year, saying the Department of Justice would criminally prosecute all adults attempting to illegally cross the southern border into the U.S. As a result, families who crossed together would in some cases be separated, he said.

Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the separation policy, despite his administration issuing the directive that led to the practice. On Monday, he doubled down on the policy, saying the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

Numerous Democrats and Republicans have called for an end to the policy, with members of each party introducing legislation to do just that.