Amnesty International rips family separation policy: 'This is nothing short of torture'

Amnesty International on Monday tore into the Trump administration's controversial policy of separating children from their parents when migrant families illegally cross the border, calling it "nothing short of torture."

"This is a spectacularly cruel policy, where frightened children are being ripped from their parent’s arms and taken to overflowing detention centers, which are effectively cages," the human rights organization said in a statement.

"This is nothing short of torture. The severe mental suffering that officials have intentionally inflicted on these families for coercive purposes, means that these acts meet the definitions of torture under both US and international law," the statement added.

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President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE on Monday doubled down in defending his administration's so-called zero tolerance policy, which was announced in April by the Justice Department. As part of the practice, children are separated from parents and placed in detention facilities while the adults are prosecuted for illegally entering the country.

The practice has sparked bipartisan backlash, with GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start Moderate GOP senators and Biden clash at start of infrastructure debate MORE (Maine) blasting the policy as “inconsistent” with American values on Sunday while Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyGreen tech isn't all it's cracked up to be 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet 33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline MORE (D-Ore.) led a group of lawmakers to the southern border in Texas to tour the U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers and seek more information about how the agency processing detained migrants. 

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility — it won’t be,” Trump said at the White House during a meeting for his space council on Monday, adding, “Not on my watch."

Trump also sent a series of tweets earlier on Monday calling on Congress to change immigration laws to end it. 

“Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” Trump said. “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.” 

“It is the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Border Security and Crime. Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration. Change the laws!” he said in another tweet.