In recent weeks, the Trump Administration has disturbingly begun a systematic separation of children, including infants and toddlers as young as 18 months, from their parents when they cross our border.
In recent testimony before Congress, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that 658 children were taken from their parents over just 14 days last month. Many of these separated families enter the country seeking legal asylum from persecution in their home country and immediately report themselves to border patrol agents.
As a parent, I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than having my children taken away and held in a mass detention center. It is painful to read stories of mothers hearing their children scream for them as the Border Patrol agents pull them away, including one particularly devastating account of a mother having her child removed from her while she was breastfeeding.
But we cannot turn a blind eye. This policy of splitting up families must stop immediately.
That’s why I’m cosponsoring the “Keep Families Together Act,” which Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced last week in Congress. The bill promotes family unity by prohibiting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances.
Attorney General Sessions made it clear in public remarks announcing his new “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that this cruel decision is meant to deter all immigrants from legally seeking protection in the United States.
It is important to protect our national borders, and I have fought for DHS funding to secure our coastal border from drug smuggling and human trafficking. However, the president’s shameful and unnecessary policy of separating children from their parents when families enter the U.S. isn’t about border protection. It’s about intimidation and fear.
The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has increased more than 20 percent as a result of this new immigration policy. The Trump administration is now considering erecting tent cities at military posts around Texas to house the growing number of migrant children separated from their parents.
We should all be outraged by this administration’s inhumane actions and speak out against these policies. Families belong together.