Romney calls family separations ‘dark chapter’ in US history

Republican candidate Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' A US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE called family separations at the border a "dark chapter in American history" during a Utah Senate debate Tuesday night.

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When asked about the policy, Romney, a former GOP presidential nominee, described the separations as cruel.

"This was a heartbreak," he said.

"This was a dark chapter in American history to see children separated from their parents and to see, as you've described, a young child that hasn't seen their parents in a long time. This is inexcusable and can't go on."

The Trump administration announced a "zero-tolerance" policy at the southwest border earlier this year, meaning that anyone crossing over would be criminally prosecuted. As a result, adults caught crossing illegally were held at federal prisons, and separated from their children.

After intense pressure, this separations were halted by an executive order signed in June.

Romney's run to replace outgoing Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R) is first foray into politics since his failed 2012 presidential bid.

Romney's challenger is Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson (D).

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan forecaster, rates the race as "Solid Republican."