Dozens of law enforcement officials from both parties wrote an open letter to top lawmakers on Wednesday urging them to adopt alternatives to the Trump administration’s policy of detaining immigrant families.
Forty-eight current and former police chiefs and sheriffs, all members of the pro-immigration Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force (LEITF), signed the letter against the policy detaining immigrant families.
LEITF launched in 2015 and is backed by the National Immigration Forum.
The officials wrote that while they were encouraged by President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE's order ending the policy of separating immigrant families at the border, they "do not believe that across-the-board family detention is the solution to family separation."
"Most families do not pose a threat to the community at large and, accordingly, our juvenile detention system is designed around keeping the family together,” the letter reads.
The letter noted “risks to children’s physical and emotional development posed by prolonged detention,” and stated that "most" families “pose no threat to their communities.”
The officials also highlighted a cancelled Obama-era pilot program meant to keep immigrant families together and out of detention as a possible solution. The Trump administration cancelled the program last year, citing high costs.
The letter is addressed to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R), House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats seek to cool simmering tensions Louisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid House Democrats unveil legislation to curtail presidential power MORE (D), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Woodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China MORE (R) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerLouisiana delegation split over debt hike bill with disaster aid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Government shutdown fears increase as leaders dig in McConnell signals Senate GOP will oppose combined debt ceiling-funding bill MORE (D).
The Trump administration faced widespread criticism for the policy separating immigrant families when they were detained for illegally crossing the border before Trump signed an executive order last week to end the practice.
Questions remain on how immigrant families will be detained together in the future. The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection ordered staff to stop referring immigrant parents with children for prosecution after Trump's order.
The official, Kevin McAleenan, said that the "zero tolerance" policy — which requires all people caught illegally crossing the border face prosecution — is still in place, but that the prosecutions had to be temporarily halted as a result of the order.