The following is a press release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office:
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in calling on United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to immediately end the Department of Justice’s cruel and illegal “zero tolerance” policy of forcibly separating children from their families at the border.
“What the Trump administration is doing is immoral and reprehensible,” said Healey. “It’s unimaginable that the President would try to play politics by tearing babies from their mothers and leaving toddlers stranded and crying. As a matter of basic humanity, and for the good this country represents, the Trump Administration needs to immediately end this horrible policy.”
In a letter sent today to AG Sessions and Secretary Nielsen, the attorneys general argue that the “zero tolerance” policy the Trump Administration announced in April is not only inhumane, but it is a violation of due process and equal protection.
The policy requires immediate separation of children from their parents and criminal prosecution of all adults who enter illegally at the southern border, including those seeking asylum.
Under the new policy, adults who enter the United States are brought to federal prisons instead of immigration detention centers, their children are placed with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, and there is no apparent plan for reunification of these families.
“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,” the attorneys general write in the letter to Sessions and Nielson.
AG Healey and the coalition of attorneys general contend that these policies are violations of international, federal and state law. According to the letter, laws and judicial precedents almost universally state that children’s best interests are in remaining with their parents, absent a rigorous judicial inquiry. The Department of Justice is inflicting devastating and long-lasting trauma on thousands of innocent children.
The letter also reads, “These practices directly interfere with the efforts of our offices and other law enforcement officials—locally, nationally, and internationally—to prevent and prosecute crime,” including human trafficking, drug trafficking, and gang violence offenses.
Joining AG Healey in sending the letter are the attorneys general of New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.