07.19.18

In First Bipartisan Statement, Leahy And Other Senators Urge President Trump To Keep Families Together

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is part of a bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who Thursday sent a letter to President Trump, asserting that the default position of the United States should be to keep families together.  The letter is signed by more than two dozen senators in all.

The letter is the first bipartisan statement firmly opposing the family separation policy and urging the administration to work with the faith community on its efforts to reunify families.

The senators wrote:  “While we represent constituents from all faiths and political backgrounds, we have all heard one consistent message—the United States government should not separate children from their families except in extreme circumstances.  Enforcement of our immigration laws should be a high priority, but we must also adhere to our core moral values as Americans.”

Leahy, commenting on this rare bipartisan Senate effort on the family separation situation, said:  “It is unconscionable that this White House has forcibly separated children – even infants – from their parents in order to try to deter refugees from seeking asylum, a right they are entitled to under our laws and under international law.  This is as un-American as it is immoral.  We have a long history of proving to the world that we can be a nation of laws as well as a nation of compassion.  It denigrates that history to lock young children in cages hundreds of miles away from their parents and to treat them like criminals.  Our letter reaffirms that protecting fundamental notions of justice and humanity is neither the Republican way nor the Democratic way.  It is the American way.”

Jim Wallis, president and founder of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners, said:  “I am very grateful for this bipartisan initiative to call on our government to work with many faith communities in the urgent task of reuniting immigrant children with their families, from whom they have been separated.  In the faith community we have a deep conviction and commitment that families should never be separated again by public policy, and it is an essential priority for us to reunite these families.”

In addition to Bennet, Lankford, Coons, Collins and Leahy, the letter was also signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge your administration to prioritize the reunification of families and to ensure that, from this point forward, the default position of the United States of America is to keep families together.

While we represent constituents from all faiths and political backgrounds, we have all heard one consistent message—the United States government should not separate children from their families except in extreme circumstances. As we work to find a permanent solution, we urge the administration to use all available resources currently at its disposal to reunite families as soon as possible.

Throughout our history, faith-based organizations have partnered with the federal government to help achieve its humanitarian goals. Faith-based organizations, including groups like Sojourners, Catholic Charities USA, World Vision, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Christian Community Development Association, Church World Service, and World Relief are willing and able to support reunification efforts and provide critical services for children and families in need. We encourage you to partner with the faith community to assist with family reunification and keeping families together in the future. 

We remain committed to working together to fix our broken immigration system. Enforcement of our immigration laws should be a high priority, but we must also adhere to our core moral values as Americans.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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David Carle: 202-224-3693