22 state attorneys general demand Trump end policy of separating families at border

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and 21 other Democratic state attorneys general are calling on the Trump administration to stop separating families caught crossing the border illegally.

“The policy is not only inhumane, but it also raises serious concerns regarding the violation of children’s rights, constitutional principles of due process and equal protection, and the efforts of state law enforcement officials to stop crime,” the attorneys general said in the letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson on Tuesday.

“Because of these concerns, we demand that the Department of Justice immediately cease these draconian practices.”

Sessions announced in April that undocumented immigrants, including those seeing asylum, would be prosecuted for illegally crossing the border as part of a new “zero tolerance” immigration policy.

Under the policy, the attorneys general said adults who enter the United States are brought to federal prisons, instead of immigrant detention centers, and their children are treated as “unaccompanied minors” and forcibly placed into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.

As a result of the policy, ProPublica reported that 2,300 children have been separated from their parents since the policy was announced in April and are being held in warehouses, tents and big-box stores.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that children are being held in cages. 

“Put simply, the deliberate separation of children and their parents who seek lawful asylum in America is wrong,” Balderas said in a statement. “This practice is contrary to American values and must be stopped.”

The letter, which also calls on the Trump administration to reverse its decision to no long grant asylum to victims of gang violence and domestic abuse, was signed by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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