Attorneys general from 20 states demand feds rescind 'inhumane' policy separating kids from parents


A coalition of 20 Democratic state attorneys general Tuesday called for an end to the Trump administration’s “inhumane” zero-tolerance policy of forcibly separating children from their parents at the nation’s southern border.

The group, which includes New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, outlined their outrage and objections in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“The policy is not only inhumane, but it also raises serious concerns regarding the violation of children’s rights, constitutional principles of due process and equal protection, and the efforts of state law enforcement officials to stop crime,” the missive says. “Because of these concerns, we demand that the Department of Justice immediately cease these draconian practices.”

The attorneys general said international, federal and state laws are designed to protect the best interests of children. Those needs are served by keeping kids with their parents, “absent a rigorous judicial inquiry resulting in a finding that a parent is unfit or proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed.”

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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“Policies that separate a child from his or her parent absent that level of inquiry, would not only be illegal under most state laws, but also may be contrary to the policy views of state legislatures and their constituents across this country,” the letter says.

The attorneys general also argue it could hamper state efforts to crack down on human and drug trafficking and gang violence — work that relies on reporting and cooperation from survivors of the crimes and victims of criminal organizations.

“The practice of mandatory family separation ... is contrary to the efforts of the law enforcement and others who dedicate their tireless efforts to stopping violent criminals,” said their note, put together by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.

“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 letter concludes.

In addition to Underwood, the attorneys general from California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois were among those who also signed the letter. District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine provided a 21st signature.

A Sessions spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

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