Attorney General Becerra: Forcibly Separating Children from Their Parents Is Inhumane and Unnecessary

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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Attorneys general send letter to US Department of Justice strongly opposing its “zero tolerance” policy of forcibly separating families at the border, including those seeking asylum

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined New Mexico Attorney General Hector H. Balderas and 19 attorneys general in demanding the U.S. Department of Justice immediately end its new “zero tolerance” immigration policy which separates children from their parents. In their letter, the attorneys general explain how these compulsory separations create serious concerns regarding the violation of children’s rights, constitutional principles of due process and equal protection.

“As a father, it is unthinkable that our government would forcibly and unnecessarily pull children away from their parents,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This policy, devised by the Trump Administration, is wrong, inhumane, and traumatic for thousands of children. It is horrifying that an American President would direct this cruel ‘zero tolerance’ policy that contradicts our American values. This is a new low for President Trump. We must do everything in our power to uphold America’s values and the rights of children not to be forcibly separated from their parents.”

On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new policy, which called for the criminal prosecution of every individual who enters the United States without inspection or authorization. This has been compounded by subsequent policies making asylum protection unavailable to victims of domestic and gang violence, even to those who properly request asylum at U.S. ports of entry. According to this policy, adults who enter the United States may be taken to federal prisons as opposed to immigrant detention centers while their children become “unaccompanied minors” who are placed into the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. Adults seeking asylum are sometimes not informed of the whereabouts of their children.

Joining Attorney General Balderas and Attorney General Becerra in sending the letter are the Attorneys General of: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

A copy of the letter is attached to the electronic version of this release at

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