Family separations at the border: Where Connecticut elected officials stand

Thousands of children have been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since April.

That’s when the Trump administration enacted its “zero tolerance” immigration policy that calls for all cases of illegal entry to be referred for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

Stories of weeping children torn from the arms of their frightened parents have flooded the media and the policy has been widely criticized by church groups, politicians and children’s advocates who say it is inhumane.

The pressure mounted for President Donald Trump to end the practice. He signed an executive order on June 20 to stop separating families but said his “zero tolerance” prosecution policy will continue.

PIX11 News has reached out to elected officials in Connecticut to learn where they stand on the policy. You can read their responses below. This article will be updated with additional statements as they come in.

U.S. SENATORS

Sen. Christopher Murphy (D) in a statement says:

“I cannot describe the anger and shame I feel as I read stories about government agents ripping crying children out of their mother’s arms.  America shouldn’t behave like a villain,” said Murphy. “President Trump could end this disgusting practice with a phone call if he wanted, but he won’t. Congress must pass the Keep Families Together Act for these innocent kids, and to show the world – and ourselves – who we really are.”

U.S. REPRESENTATIVES

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT 2nd District) in a statement says:

“In the wake of growing bipartisan calls for President Trump to end his Justice Department’s recently implemented policy of “zero tolerance” that results in separating families at the border, I am cosponsoring new legislation in the House of Representatives today called the Keep Families Together Act. This bill will prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from separating parents and children taken into custody within 100 miles of the border except for narrow cases involving abuse or neglect. It would also allow people seeking asylum in the United States to be given a fair hearing before subjecting them to criminal prosecution and tearing families apart.

“Given the growing chorus of public figures speaking out against this deeply misguided policy, including former First Lady Laura Bush and Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan, I hope the President will immediately order the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to end the separations and begin the process of reuniting families. As Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said yesterday on television, President Trump could end this horrific policy with one phone call if he chooses to do so.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd District) in a statement says:

“What the Trump Administration is doing is immoral at its core. It is child abuse—there is no way around it. Kids as young as 18 months are being held in custody away from their parents, with many showing signs of separation trauma that can cause irreparable harm. This is a clear issue of right and wrong, and all of us must oppose it as forcefully as possible.

“Instead of taking responsibility for his administration’s actions and their consequences, President Trump has tweeted repeatedly to say that Democrats passed this law. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was not occurring under the previous administration, and President Trump could stop this tomorrow if he wanted to. But he has done nothing. No, instead, he wants to politicize this issue and blame others for his own policy.”

Watch Congresswoman DeLauro’s video on the introduction of her House Resolution.

Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT 5th District) in a statement says:

“The Trump Administration needs to end the cruel and inhumane practice of forcibly separating children from their parents at the border, even those seeking asylum. This policy is causing real and possibly permanent harm to these children, many of whom have already endured great hardship. The fact that the Trump Administration is separating children from their parents at the border goes against our shared values as Americans. It is also appalling to task our customs and border patrol agents with inflicting this type of harm.

“This Administration is willfully ignoring valid claims for humanitarian relief. Many of these families have fled violence and threats and are seeking a safe life for themselves in the United States. We, as a nation, have a moral obligation to assist these families. As a mother of three, my heart breaks at the thought of these children—some of whom are still in diapers—waking up each morning not knowing when they will be with their parents again. To inflict this level of trauma on some of the most vulnerable can only be described as a crisis of conscious within the Trump Administration that in turn reflects on our country as a whole.

“We have the resources to fix a badly broken immigration system and create a much fairer, more humane system that works. I will seek out every tool and resource available to stop these separations from occurring, while I continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.”