Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski issued a statement today condemning the Department of Homeland Security’s practice of separating families at the border.
“The time is now for the White House to end the cruel, tragic separations of families,” she wrote. “They are not consistent with our values. The thousands of children taken from their parents and families must be reunited as quickly as possible and be treated humanely while immigration proceedings are pending.”
The separation of parents attempting to cross into the United States illegally from their children has grabbed headlines recently as nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in the last six weeks. There have even been reports that people attempting to seek asylum have also been separated from their children or turned away.
“I am troubled that those seeking asylum are being turned away before they even have the opportunity to file their papers,” Murkowski wrote. “While I have said that this is a policy discussion that needs to be had, in my view we should not have a policy designed to separate families, particularly mothers with young children, without a clear process and focus on the needs of the children.”
The administration has stood by the practice amid mounting backlash, holding that it’s simply part of a new zero-tolerance policy that sends every case of illegal immigration to prosecution.
Still, the new practice marks a significant departure from the immigration policies of the administrations of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Trump has largely attempted to pin the blame for the new behavior on Obama and the Democrats, accusing the Democrats of refusing to even negotiate on a deal to end the practice that his administration invented.
Murkowski addressed that point, saying such an excuse is “not acceptable.”
“To blame previous administrations for a wrong committed today is not acceptable,” she wrote. “The Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security should make the call today. If the administration does not fix this and fast, we in Congress must.”
Trump’s called for changes to the law just as the House considers a hard-line conservative immigration bill and a somewhat more moderate one put forward by Speaker Paul Ryan.
Neither Rep. Don Young nor Sen. Dan Sullivan have issued statements on family separations as of Monday mid-afternoon.