Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) says he will cosponsor the Keeping Families Together Act, saying he doesn’t support the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their families at the border.
The Keeping Families Together Act, authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), prohibits removing a child from his or her parent or legal guardian at or near ports of entry into the country except for certain circumstances.
“An agency may not remove a child from a parent or legal guardian solely for the policy goal of deterring individuals from migrating to the United States or for the policy goal of promoting compliance with civil immigration laws,” the bill reads.
Donnelly says the policy that separates families is wrong.
I’ll be cosponsoring the Keeping Families Together Act. As I’ve said, those trying to enter our country illegally should be held accountable and we should fix our broken immigration system, but I don’t support the Admin.'s new policy that separates children from their families. https://t.co/OXbszeIsWC
— Senator Joe Donnelly (@SenDonnelly) June 17, 2018
“While people trying to enter our country illegally should be held accountable and our immigration laws should be enforced, my faith has taught me that our policies should also reflect our values,” Donnelly said in a statement. “We need to fix our broken immigration system and strengthen our borders, and I continue to stand ready to work in a bipartisan manner to do so.”
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) has not indicated whether or not he will support the measure, but said in a statement that “we must solve this humanitarian and national security problem once and for all.”
“It is a moral imperative to ensure the safety and well-being of children, and the government must make sure to reunite families expeditiously,” Young said. “Our immigration system has been broken for far too long. We must solve this humanitarian and national security problem once and for all – as I have voted to do. As a Marine who used to work on border security issues, Hoosiers know that I will continue to fight for a real solution.”
Figures Show About 2,000 Minors Separated From Families
From the Associated Press
Nearly 2,000 minors have been separated from their families at the U.S. border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries, according to Department of Homeland Security figures obtained by The Associated Press.
The figures show that 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults from April 19 through May 31. The separations were not broken down by age, and they included separations for illegal entry, immigration violations or possible criminal conduct by the adult.
Under a “zero tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security officials are now referring all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.
Sessions announced the effort April 6, and Homeland Security began stepping up referrals in early May, effectively putting the policy into action.
Since then, stories of weeping children torn from the arms of their frightened parents have flooded the media and the policy has been widely criticized by church groups, politicians and children’s advocates who say it is inhumane. A battle in Congress is brewing in part over the issue.
Some immigrant advocates have said women were being separated from their infants; Homeland Security and Justice Department denied it. They also said the children were being well cared for and disputed reports of disorder and mistreatment at the border.
On Thursday, Sessions cited the Bible in defending the policy, arguing the recent criticisms were not “fair or logical and some are contrary to law.”
“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said.
The International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid group, said in response that “a policy of willing cruelty to those people, and using young sons and daughters as pawns, shatters America’s strong foundation of humanitarian sensibility and family values.”
The new figures are for people who tried to enter the U.S. between official border crossings. Asylum-seekers who go directly to official crossings are not separated from their families, except in specific circumstances, such as if officials can’t confirm the relationship between the minors and adults, if the safety of the children is in question, or if the adult is being prosecuted.
There were an additional 38 minors separated at ports of entry in May through June 6. There were more than 55 in April and a high of 64 in March, according to the figures.