WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined 38 of their Democratic Senate colleagues in demanding the Trump administration stop further traumatizing children and end Trump’s inhumane policy of separating innocent boys and girls from families who cross the Southwest border seeking asylum in the United States.
Citing the American Academy of Pediatrics, the senators stressed the short- and long-term damage to these children from being unnecessarily separated from their families. Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Trump’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy, hundreds of children have been separated from their parents and are being held in detention centers and other institutional facilities. The Senate letter echoes the message of more than 540 state and national child development, child welfare and juvenile justice groups from all 50 states that sent a similar letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen today.
“We are writing to ask that you reverse course on your inhumane decision to separate children from their parents at the border,” the senators said in today’s letter to Trump. “This policy has traumatized children who are fleeing extreme violence. Our government has a humanitarian duty to the children and families seeking asylum in the United States to end this policy immediately.”
The senators underscored that the administration’s cruel and unnecessary separations run counter to widely accepted standards of care that prioritize keeping children and families together whenever possible.
“Best practices in child welfare promote keeping children and their parents together unless removal is in the child’s best interest,” the senators wrote. “Unnecessarily separating more children from their parents will further exacerbate the lack of home-based foster care placements available and increase the use of large-capacity institutional settings, such as abandoned military bases, to house these children.”
Joining Cardin and Van Hollen on the letter were Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tom Carper, D-Del., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Chris Coons, D-Del., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Angus King, I-Maine, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Robert P. Casey, Jr., D-Penn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Mark Warner, D-Va., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
Read the full text of the letter here.