Over 30 Senators Introduce Bill to Block DHS from Separating Families at Border - Not a Single Republican Joins

Thirty-two U.S. senators—all Democrats or independents—have cosponsored legislation from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California that would block the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from brutally tearing kids from the arms of migrant parents at the U.S./Mexico border. According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), more than 650 kids were kidnapped from their parents, many of whom are asylum-seekers, during a two-week period alone last month.

“Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated,” Sen. Feinstein said in a press release. “Many of these families are fleeing terrible violence, traveling thousands of miles on foot for the chance to file an asylum claim and save their lives.” Seeking asylum at a U.S. port of entry is a legal act under U.S. law. Instead, the Trump administration is punishing already vulnerable families by ripping their kids away.

In one of the most horrendous examples of family separation under the Trump administration, a Congolese asylum-seeker and her seven-year-old were torn apart for months, despite the mom passing her initial interview. “When the officers separated them, Ms. L. could hear her daughter in the next room screaming that she did not want to be taken away from her mother,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote, ultimately helping them reunite through a lawsuit. But, 47 kids continue to get torn apart from their families at the border every day.

“To traumatize them further is unconscionable,” Sen. Feinstein said, “and I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to put an end to this immoral policy.” To date, no single member from the so-called party of family values has cosponsored this legislation.

Under the legislation, immigration officials would be permitted to separate families “only in the event they are being trafficked or abused by their parents.” Currently, the administration is doing this barbarity solely to punish families and deter others seeking asylum, in violation of U.S. and international law—and with devastating effect.

According to Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “highly-stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm to children’s health, disrupting their brain architecture and affecting short- and long-term health.” Scarred detained moms have also told members of Congress that border agents have been abusive to them, telling them they “never see their children again”:

In a press conference outside the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington, Congress member Pramila Jayapal led a group of lawmakers and advocates condemning the Trump administration’s cruel policy tearing kids from the arms of migrant parents at the U.S./Mexico border, saying that “every asylum-seeker should be immediately released, reunited with their children and connected to legal services. Anything less is cruel and barbaric.”

Rep. Jayapal has also been among the congressional Democrats who have introduced sweeping legislation to financially starve the deportation beast, force a moratorium on new Immigration and Customs (ICE) facilities and demand accountability from out-of-control immigration agents. Yes, this is a Republican-led Congress that is intent only on enabling Trump’s mass deportation force, but combined these bills represent a blueprint for keeping families together.

And remember, family separation is so barbaric that even Trump has tried to blame it on Democrats. If Republicans oppose this brutal policy, they can cosponsor this bill, vocally support it, call for a vote on it, and get it passed now. Otherwise, let the record state where the so-called party of family values and children stood on tearing babies as young as one-year-old from the arms of their parents, who did the most loving thing a parent could ever do for a child: try to give them a chance. 

“Let me be clear: there is no law requiring this Administration to separate children from their parents—Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen are choosing to tear families apart to intimidate those who are lawfully seeking asylum in our country,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. “It’s extreme, heartbreaking, un-American, and has to stop.” 

Citizens can call their U.S. senators at (202) 224-3121 to demand support for migrant families.

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