Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Monday afternoon in criticizing the ongoing separation of families at the border, but stopped short of calling for an immediate end to the practice.
In a comment provided to the Anchorage Daily News, Sullivan called the Trump administration policy “heartbreaking,” but called for a legislative solution to the problem, including additional resources to more quickly prosecute parents who are attempting to cross illegally or process asylum applications. Sullivan also used the opportunity to take a shot at the Obama administration’s “catch and release policy,” suggesting that it encouraged trafficking of children.
“First and foremost, no one wants to separate children from parents. It’s heartbreaking. The default position for our government should be to keep families together whenever possible–emphasizing the safety of the children,” he said in the prepared statement. “Nevertheless, this is a complicated issue that needs a bipartisan approach to keep kids with their parents, while at the same time ending the catch and release policy of the previous administration that encouraged further illegal immigration, and worse, trafficking of children.”
Though Sullivan directed some blame toward the Obama administration, his comments don’t go as far as Trump, who’s blamed Obama and the Democrats for his policy of separating of families. Murkowski’s statement addressed this issue head-on, noting “To blame previous administrations for a wrong committed today is not acceptable.”
The separation of families attempting to cross the border illegally–and in some reported cases legally seeking asylum–comes as the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security have instituted a zero-tolerance policy to immigration laws, sending cases to prosecution in already-overloaded immigration courts. Sullivan’s statement calls for more resources to be focused on those courts so the cases can be resolved more quickly.
“Going forward, we must work towards a legislative solution to allow immigration proceedings to be conducted more rapidly without splitting up families,” he said in the prepared statement. “This will require more funding for resources like additional immigration judges as well as new facilities so that parents and kids can stay together. We are a country of laws, but also a country of values and humanity. Finding the right balance is key and I’ll work hard with my colleagues to do that.”