The Department of Justice has [before now] worked to ensure that families apprehended while attempting to enter the country illegally are treated with compassion, are detained together whenever possible, receive expedited deportation, are allowed to remain together pending an asylum determination, and are always reunited. Now, under your policy, because children cannot accompany their arrested parents to an adult criminal detention center, these children, apparently including infants and toddlers, are routinely separated from their parents. Under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent-less children — who often do not speak English — are transferred to and detained at a tent city, a refashioned Wal-Mart, or other detention facilities in cities like Chicago, thousands of miles away from their parents.The law does not require the systematic separation of families under these circumstances. Collectively, as former United States Attorneys, we have prosecuted tens of thousands of cases involving far more serious crimes than misdemeanor illegal entry offenses. And even in those far more serious cases, decisions involving the separation of children from their parents were made with extraordinary caution, and only after an evaluation of the specific circumstances of a particular case. Today, by contrast, your Zero Tolerance policy has produced a tragic and unsustainable result, without taking into account each family’s specific circumstances. Under your policy, families and children are greeted with unexpected cruelty at the doorstep of the United States, instead of with relief or asylum in the greatest country in the world. Until now, no Republican or Democratic administration, nor any prior Attorney General, has endangered children in order to deter illegal entry.
June 19, 2018 at 2:03 PM EDT