Coalition of State AGs Demands DOJ to End “Inhumane” Zero-Tolerance Policy

Credits: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP

A coalition of 21 state Attorneys General demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) to end its zero-tolerance policy that separates undocumented families caught crossing at the border illegally.

Since the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions implemented the policy, around 2,000 undocumented children were separated from their parents/legal guardian. The practice triggered an outcry not only among Democrats but also Republicans, who believe that it is wrong and inconsistent with the American values.

On Tuesday, the coalition led by New Mexico AG Hector H. Balderas sent a letter to AG Sessions and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirsten Nielsen. They emphasized that the zero tolerance policy is inhumane and raises serious concerns regarding the violation of children’s rights. It also raises concerns regarding the constitutional principles of due process and equal protection.

The coalition of state AGs demanded Sessions and Nielsen to immediately stop the zero-tolerance policy.  They reminded them that international, federal, and state laws protect the fundamental rights and he best interests of children.

Deliberate separation of children and their parents is “illegal”

According to them, these laws represent the views of millions of Americans that “the government, in any process, should first and foremost seek to protect” a child’s best interest—that is to remain with his or her family.

The government must prove that a parent is unfit based on a rigorous judicial inquiry or committed a crime beyond reasonable doubt. Without that level of inquiry, it is illegal under most state laws to separate a child from his/her parent. It also contradicts the policy views of state legislatures and their constituents across the country, according to the state AGs.

Additionally, the state AGs emphasized that the “deliberate separation of families for the purpose of furthering an immigration policy is contrary to our laws.”

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

A new low for Pres. Trump

In a separate statement, California AG Xavier Becerra, said the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy is “cruel, wrong, inhumane and traumatic for thousands of children.”

Additionally, Becerra said, “This is a new low for President Trump. We must do everything in our power to uphold America’s values and the rights of children…”

On the other hand, New York AG Barbara Underwood commented, “The Trump administration is tearing children away from their parents just to further a draconian political agenda. This is not only inhumane and totally unconscionable – it also undermines our public safety.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro stressed that the “Trump administration’s family separation policy is un-American.” It violates the core principles and values of the United States. He added that the President has the “sole authority to rescind this policy.” He should “stop using children as leverage in political battles.”