Dozens of former United States attorneys signed on to a letter Monday calling for Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE to end the separation of migrant families at the U.S. border.
In the letter, the former attorneys — who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents — argue that the policy departs from past Justice Department procedure.
"Like the majority of Americans, we have been horrified by the images and stories of children torn from their families along our nation’s Southwest Border. And like a majority of Americans, we are appalled that your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children," the letter reads. "But as former United States Attorneys, we also emphasize that the Zero Tolerance policy is a radical departure from previous Justice Department policy, and that it is dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent with the values of the institution in which we served."
Sessions announced the so-called zero tolerance 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.
The former attorneys argue in their letter, however, that "the law does not require the systematic separation of families under these circumstances," and call the zero tolerance policy "unsustainable."
"Under your policy, families and children are greeted with unexpected cruelty at the doorstep of the United States, instead of with relief or asylum in the greatest country in the world. Until now, no Republican or Democratic administration, nor any prior Attorney General, has endangered children in order to deter illegal entry," the letter reads.
The letter is only the latest example of backlash against the policy.
More than 600 members of the United Methodist Church, of which Sessions is a member, signed on to a letter Monday also condemning the practice.