Columbia mayor: I’m prepared to go to jail for helping children at border

Columbia mayor: I’m prepared to go to jail for helping children at border
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The mayor of Columbia, S.C., has vowed to do anything to comfort the migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border — even if that means he will go to jail.

Steve Benjamin (D), the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is leading a group of mayors down to the border in western Texas on Thursday, The State reported.

As of Tuesday the group of mayors had not yet been granted permission from the Department of Homeland Security to visit a detention facility in Tornillo, Texas, the newspaper reported.


Benjamin told the publication that the mayors are determined to get inside the facility. Several members of Congress were denied entry to a detention facility in South Florida earlier this week.

"If it means that we’ll violate the attorney general and Secretary (of Homeland Security Kirstjen) Nielsen’s policy of picking up a crying child, we’re prepared to go to jail for that,” Benjamin said.

The group of mayors is meeting in El Paso, Texas, this week in response to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that is leading to children being separated from their parents.

“This will be one of the defining moments of American character for the first half of the 21st century,” Benjamin said. “This process is horrendous, inhumane and inconsistent with who we are as a people. And it should end.”

Benjamin called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE, Attorney General Jeff Session and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Pelosi pulls State of the Union surprise on Trump Overnight Defense: Four Americans killed in Syria suicide attack | State of the Union becomes latest shutdown flashpoint | Missile defense review on track for Thursday release MORE to end the policy.

“It goes to the core of who we are, not just as Americans but as human beings,” Benjamin told The State.

Audio released by ProPublica on Monday revealed children crying for their parents in the detention centers. 

Sessions announced the administration's zero-tolerance policy in April, saying the U.S. would prosecute illegal border crossers to the fullest extent of the law.

This policy has led to at least 2,000 children being detained separately from their parents while the adults face criminal proceedings.