Senior Republicans are attacking Trump's policy of separating families at the US border — here's how they're turning on the President

  • Thousands of children have been separated from their family members at the US-Mexico border.

  • The practice has been part of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy on immigration.

  • It has enraged the public, Democrats — and now, influential Republicans as well.

  • Scroll down to see what some of the Republicans have said.

The Trump administration has been under fire over the past few weeks for its policy of separating children from their parents, which came as part of its "zero-tolerance policy" on border immigration.

Recent photos have shown children weeping in the arms of family members before being separated, climbing over barbed wire fences alone, and being kept in cages.

Trump has argued that the family separations were the result of "following laws, very simply, that were given to us and forced upon us by Democrats." Internal documents, however, have shown that it was the Trump administration that put out the order to do so.

Public outrage over the policy has become so heated that even influential Republicans have spoken against it.

Take a look at what some of them have said:

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas): This is "something, as Americans, we shouldn't be doing"

The GOP congressman visited a temporary shelter for unaccompanied immigration children in his district of Tornillo, Texas, and described the policy of separation as "actually unacceptable."

Hurd told CNN on Saturday: "To me it makes it very clear that in the home of the free and the land of the brave, we should not be using kids as a deterrent policy. This is something I think is actually unacceptable and something, as Americans, we shouldn't be doing.

"This isn't really a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue about how should you treat children."

In a separate interview that day, Hurd also described the fact that the Trump administration had yet to provide an adequate explanation about how it was keeping track of undocumented parents and how to reunite them as "nuts."

He added that the administration's keeping teenage boys in temporary shelters at the border was "an indication that the policy is flawed."

Hurd also called for "more focus on addressing the root causes in Central America," on "alternatives to detention."

In an op-ed published on Sunday, the former first lady called the separation policy "cruel," "immoral," and that "it breaks my heart."

The wife of George W. Bush wrote in The Washington Post:

"I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.

"Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso."

Sen. Susan Collins: This is "inconsistent with American values"

Collins (R-Maine) said she supported Trump's efforts to increase border security, but that the separation of families were "inconsistent with American values," unless there was evidence to show that the parents were abusing children.

She told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday: "We know from years of experience that we need to fix our immigration laws and that using children is not the answer."

She added: "We already know two things. First, from the experience of previous administrations, it does not act as a deterrent to use children in this fashion. And second, and must more important, it is inconsistent with our American values to separate these children from their parents unless there's evidence of abuse or another very good reason."

Her response comes around the 0:58 mark in the video above.

First Lady Melania Trump

The First Lady issued a rare political statement in the wake of increasing reports of family separations at the US-Mexico border. While she did not specifically criticize the Trump administration, she said she believed the US needed to be "a country that governs with heart."

Stephanie Grisham, Trump's communications director, told CNN: "Mrs Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform.

"She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

Sen. Jeff Flake: We want details on what guards are doing to families at the border

Also on Sunday, Collins and Flake (R-Ariz.) sent a joint letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking for details including the number of children who have been separated from their families, the DHS policy or legal theory that justifies the separations, and the training received by border guards who handle the family separations.

"It is critical that Congress fully understands how our nation's laws are being implemented on the ground, especially when the well-being of young children is at stake," the senators wrote.

1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults between April 19 to May 31, Homeland Security figures revealed.

See the full letter here.

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham: "Disgraceful," "terrible to see"

Franklin Graham, the Evangelical leader and CEO of Samaritan's Purse who prayed at Trump's inauguration, also disavowed the policy.

Last week he described the policy as "disgraceful," and added that it was "terrible to see families ripped apart and I don't support that one bit."

However, he blamed "politicians for the last 20, 30 years" rather than Trump explicitly.

Evangelical Christians are an important base to the president: Trump won four out of five evangelical voters in the 2016 election.

US Conference of Catholic Bishops leader: "Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral"

Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, also said last week: "While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety.

"Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral."

White Catholics supported Trump over Clinton by a 23-point margin of 60% to 37% in the 2016 election.

The White House, however, has claimed that it was "very biblical to enforce the law."

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