GOP Sen. Ben SasseBen SassePresident of newly recognized union for adult performers boosts membership Romney blasts Biden over those left in Afghanistan: 'Bring them home' Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal MORE (Neb.) on Monday said that the Trump administration should end a “wicked” practice of separating immigrant families at the border amid growing backlash over the policy.
“The President should immediately end this family separation policy. And he should announce to the Congress the narrowest possible way problems like the Flores consent decree and related decisions (which bias policy toward release into the U.S. within three weeks after capture) can be resolved," Sasse wrote in a Facebook post.
Sasse added that the administration's policy “is a new, discretionary choice” and a “bad new policy” in “reaction against a bad old policy,” referring to the catch-and-release program.
“Family separation is wicked. It is harmful to kids and absolutely should NOT be the default U.S. policy. Americans are better than this,” Sasse added in his Facebook post.
The Trump administration is defending its handling of immigrant families along the U.S-Mexico border as they take growing criticism from Democrats as well as members of the president's own party.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenEx-Trump official: 'No. 1 national security threat I've ever seen' is GOP Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' MORE on Sunday said that the Trump administration does not have a policy of separating families seeking asylum if they try to legally cross the border.
“This misreporting by Members, press & advocacy groups must stop. It is irresponsible and unproductive. As I have said many times before, if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry,” Nielsen said.
Sasse also appeared to take a shot at high-profile members of the Trump administration, who have argued the “zero tolerance” policy is being used as a deterrent to prevent future illegal immigration.
“Some in the administration have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage. This is wrong. Americans do not take children hostage, period,” Sasse said in his Facebook post.
The pushback comes as the Department of Homeland Security is for the first time prosecuting people who are caught crossing the border illegally, a crime that’s been on the books since 1986.
Sessions announced the zero tolerance policy earlier this year for immigrants illegally crossing the southern border.
“If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said last month at a press conference at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law.”
He added in a statement: “To those who wish to challenge the Trump Administration’s commitment to public safety, national security, and the rule of law, I warn you: illegally entering this country will not be rewarded, but will instead be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice.”