The attorneys general from 20 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter [text, PDF] to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen [official websites] on Tuesday calling for the end to the Justice Department’s policy of separating children from their parents who cross the US border seeking asylum.
The AGs state that “a child’s best interests are served by remaining with his or her family, 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.” Removal of a child from their parents before such an inquiry is stated as being against state law and that the removal of a child should only occur after extremely high levels of scrutiny. The AGs also state that the practice hinders the ability of the state law enforcement to combat human trafficking, drug trafficking, and gang violence because the practice would hinder cooperation and reporting of victims the crimes and criminal organizations.
The attorneys General represent New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
The practice has seen condemnation from several groups around the world. On Monday the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called [JURIST report] the policy “government-sanctioned child abuse.” Earlier in June a federal judge declared [JURIST report] that the policy may violate due process. In February the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the policy.