Colorado Senator Cory Gardner joined 11 of his colleagues Tuesday in sending a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling on the Administration to halt current policies leading to the forced separation of minor children from their parents, who are illegally entering the United States, and to allow Congress to fix the issue through legislation.
Gardner joined with Colorado Senator Michael Bennet in 2017 to co-sponsor the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017, which would provide undocumented children a path to U.S. citizenship, provided they met certain requirements. The bill has not yet reached a vote.
Monday, Gardner stated on social media that the immigration system is broken and cited the controversial separation of children from their parents at the southern border as a reason to pass immigration reform. "Children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents, [and] that's exactly what is happening right now," said Gardner.
Our immigration system is broken & the separation of children at our southern border shows just how critical it is that Congress pass immigration reform immediately. Children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents, & that's exactly what is happening right now.
-- Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) June 18, 2018
Signers of the letter include: Senators Orin Hatch (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Dean Heller (R-NV), James Lankford (R-OK), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
The letter reads in full
Dear Mr. Attorney General:
Like millions of Americans, we have read with increasing alarm reports of children being separated from their parents at the southern border. Although enforcing our immigration laws is an essential responsibility of the federal government, it must be done in a way that is consistent with our values and ordinary human decency.
The current family separation crisis has multiple contributing causes, including court decisions that require release rather than detention of children but not parents who enter our country illegally. But the immediate cause of the crisis is your Department's recent institution of a "zero tolerance" policy under which all adults who enter the United States illegally are referred for prosecution, regardless of whether such individuals are claiming asylum and regardless of whether they are accompanied by minor children.
We support the administration's efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents. We therefore ask you to work with the relevant Administration officials to stop the separation of families pursuant to the Department's zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally. We believe a reasonable path forward can be found that accommodates the need to enforce our laws while holding true to other, equally essential values.