A coalition of state attorneys general, including Maura Healy in Massachusetts, sent a letter on Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, demanding that the administration immediately stop putting children in danger by separating them from their families on the nation’s southern border.
Healy said the policy not only is inhumane, but also raises serious concerns about violating children’s rights as well as constitutional principles of due process and equal protection.
Laura Rotolo, staff counsel and immigrants’ rights organizer at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said she is pleased that the letter’s tone is forceful.
“We’re seeing images and we’re hearing audio of children literally being ripped away from their parents,” she said. “We know that they’re being held thousands of miles away, in substandard conditions in detention, when they should never be in detention in the first place, and when they should be together with their families.”
The issue of separating families also is heating up the Massachusetts governor’s race. On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said he won’t send the state’s National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border because of what he calls the “cruel and inhumane” policy. Democrat Jay Gonzalez said Baker should not have offered the state’s resources in the first place.
Rotolo said these new immigration tactics are affecting families not only at the border but across the United States. She added that Massachusetts lawmakers are working on statewide legislation.
“We’re just in the final stages of a bill in the Statehouse,” she said, “where we’re really asking Massachusetts not to be complicit in this, and to make sure that at the very least, our own resources and police forces are not used as immigration agents.”
President Donald Trump was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, ahead of planned votes this week in the U.S. House of Representatives on two pieces of legislation that tackle immigration very differently. Several other bills have been filed in case neither of those receives the backing it needs to move forward.
The letter from the state attorneys general is online at ag.ny.gov.
Via Commonwealth News Service