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 New York 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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) writes in an open letter to Vice President Mike Pence published Tuesday, June 19:
Welcome to New York, a beacon of liberty and opportunity to the world. With the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, New York has proudly served as a symbol of our American values and a gateway for millions of immigrants arriving in this country, including your grandfather Richard Michael Cawley.
Today this nation’s commitment to openness and tolerance is under siege by your administration. Your policy of ripping children from their parents is a moral outrage and an assault on the values that built this state and this nation. This policy makes it very clear you have forgotten what made America great.
I write to you as the Governor of New York but also, like you, as the father of three. I cannot bear to imagine the pain and suffering the parents at the border face when their children are taken from them.
If the parents’ anguish does not compel you to end this policy, then the children’s plight must. I have heard the terrifying sobs of the children separated from their parents. And I know that your administration’s actions will have devastating long-term consequences for these children. Research and common-sense point to the developmental effects of depriving children of their parents. Such a traumatic experience can in fact trigger irreversible physical and psychological harm.
I have already expressed my grave concerns with this administration’s anti-immigrant tactics, including when I requested the Department of Homeland Security Acting Inspector General to investigate their discriminatory tactics in our state and called on him to tell us what his office is doing about the assault on immigrant families along the border. And I will continue to fight to defend our American values and protect the rights of all New Yorkers.
While you are in New York, I ask you to remember the words of Emma Lazarus mounted on a plaque inside the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), in remarks on the Senate floor, says:
I rise to speak about a humanitarian crisis happening right now in our country at the border. Something that I implore my colleagues to fight to stop.
The Department of Homeland Security is tearing young children away from the arms of their parents. They are traumatizing infants and children. And Congress needs to urgently act.
Mr. President, I know that we have disagreements about immigration policy in this chamber, and I know we have our disagreements about how we should fix our immigration system, which we’ve desperately needed to fix for decades. But surely we must be able to agree that federal agents should not be tearing young children from the arms of their parents.
We must be able to agree that families with infants should not be forcibly separated.
Where is the outrage? Where is the urgency? I hear my colleagues speak all the time about federal government overreach. Well, if this isn’t federal government overreach, what is? This is the moment that they have gone too far.
One mother was breastfeeding her infant. A federal agency took that baby out of her mother’s arms, handcuffed her, arrested her. Mr. President, where is that baby now? How is that baby doing? Where is the baby’s mother?
From mid-April through the end of last month, almost two thousand children were separated from adults at the border. Nearly 50 times a day, on American soil, our government has separated a child from their parents, creating fear and terror in their lives. And just today, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security is now holding 11,785 minors.
11,785 minors. This is a disgrace.
One worker at a detention center for children just resigned as a conscientious objector, and he described the children being held there as “a traumatized population that has no clue what is going on.”
He said his staff wasn’t at all prepared to look after four- and five-year-olds that are coming to these detention centers.
He said the kids are screaming and crying for their moms and dads.
Pediatricians, M. President, who have met these children are calling it “government-sanctioned child abuse.”
Pediatricians are calling it “government-sanctioned child abuse.”
One of our colleagues in the House was able to meet with mothers whose children had been taken from them at the border.
She said that in some cases, the mothers were, quote, “literally sitting in a room next door to where the children were being held, and could hear their own children screaming.”
Mr. President, have we not even studied our own history?
Because this is the kind of thing that we read about in history books, and shake our heads in disgust.
We ask ourselves, “How did they let that happen?” We ask ourselves, “Why didn’t Congress stop it? Why didn’t anyone do anything?”
Do we not remember what happened during World War II with the Japanese internment camps?
Children were traumatized, families were damaged, in some cases permanently.
The memorial to remind us of this is a stone’s throw from the U.S. Capitol, just for the purpose of reminding us to never do this again.
We cannot let our country go down that dark road again.
But if Congress does not stop the out-of-control Department of Homeland Security, if Congress does not stop families from being torn apart, even though it’s happening right in front of our eyes, then this Congress will go down in history as a weak Congress that did nothing to stop one of the worst, horrific chapters of American history.
This has to be the moment we do our jobs. We stand up. Speak truth to power. Do the right thing. We don’t know how many young children will be traumatized for the rest of their lives because of our actions.
These young children will never forget that when they first came to America, they were separated from their mothers and their fathers.
Mr. President, the President of the United States is not telling the truth about this policy to the American people.
It is just not true that this immoral and repulsive practice of separating children from their parents is a mandatory result of existing law.
It’s just not true.
This is the stated practice and policy of zero tolerance by this administration.
It is abhorrent. It is immoral. And the administration could stop this all by themselves today if they wanted to.
But since they won’t, Congress needs to act.
If this Congress can’t or won’t push back against this administration when it’s actually harming children, when will it act?
I urge my colleagues to come together right now to stop this stain on our nation.
We have a bill, it was introduced by Senator Feinstein. We already have 49 cosponsors.
We should vote on that bill.
It would protect the welfare of children. It would make sure that children would not be separated from their parents and the only time they would be separated from their parents, or the adults they are with, if they are being trafficked or abused.
Otherwise families should be allowed to stay together.
Mr. President, we should do the right thing. This is a moral issue. This is a humanitarian issue. This is an issue of right versus wrong.
As a mother, as a legislator, I can’t imagine the terror that these parents face, to not know what is going to happen to their children.
It is wrong of us to stand by silently. It is wrong of us to do nothing. This is what the darkness looks like.
We have to stand up against it.
I yield the floor.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in remarks says:
“M. President, members of both parties, and I believe the vast majority of Americans, remain concerned about the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that’s resulted in thousands of families separated at the border. Anyone who has seen the photos, or heard the audio of small children, alone and afraid, crying out for their parents cannot help but feel horror and disgust by what’s going on.
“No one should be allowed into the country who doesn’t meet the legal requirements, but we have an adjudication process, that, in the past, did not require the separation of parents from their children. The Trump Administration has decided, of its own will and volition, to take a crueler, more callous, and indeed a more expensive and time-consuming approach. As a bipartisan group of former US Attorney’s wrote today, “the Zero Tolerance policy is a radical departure from previous Justice Department policy, and that it is dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent with the values of the institution in which we served.”
“And yet, President Trump acts as if his hands are tied, as if it’s not up to him, as if somehow Congress and Democrats are to blame for a policy his administration instituted, defended, and some members of the Administration continue to defend.
“The truth of the matter is that the Trump Administration announced this new “zero tolerance” policy at the border in April. The Trump Administration decided to criminally prosecute every single illegal border case, instead of simply deporting them. Chief of Staff Kelly called the policy a “tough deterrent.” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson has defended the policy, as have Attorney General Sessions, White House Advisor Stephen Miller, and several other members of the Administration.
“Last night on Fox News, Attorney General Sessions characterized the family separation policy as a deterrent.
“So when President Trump tweets “CHANGE THE LAWS” and that his policy is the result of a law that “Democrats forced upon the nation,” he’s ignoring reality, he’s contradicting his own administration, and he’s simply not telling the truth.
“No law requires the separation of families at the border. It’s just not true.
“At the convention, President Trump said about the problems of the nation that “I alone can fix it.” In the case of family separation, it’s actually true. He alone can fix this with the flick of a pen. Mr. President, you should fix it. But if you don’t want change this cruel policy, you must admit that it is your decision. Blaming others is a cheap, easy, and dishonest way out.
“President Trump, if you are truly ashamed of what’s happening at the border, get your team together and undo this shameful policy. But if you don’t want to change the policy, you need to take responsibility and own up to it.
Sen. Diane Savino (D-NY 23rd District) says in a statement:
“I’ve spent my entire professional career trying to protect at risk children first as a child case worker, then as Chair of the Committee on Children and Families in the State Senate. That is why the audio and images of conditions that children have been subject to at immigration facilities are so appalling. Holding children in these facilities without their parents is heartbreaking, cruel and immoral. Washington needs to act and needs to do so quickly. The ongoing politicization of this issue must stop, and this administration must immediately end this practice and find a solution that protects children and reunites families.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY 1st District) in a statement says:
“It’s not a good policy to separate children at our border from their parents and release them into the U.S. as UACs. It’s also not good policy to immediately release families who enter our country illegally into our communities. I would support legislation that allows the entire family to be detained together.”
Rep. Peter King (R-NY 2nd District) in a statement says:
“Border security is essential. We cannot allow flows of undocumented immigrants into our country. That is why I support building a border wall, increasing the number of border patrol agents and cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. I also realize that ways must be found to prevent individuals and families from abusing and working their way around U.S. asylum laws.
“Having said that, the policy of separating children from their parents is in conflict with our country’s values. The President and the Attorney General must at a minimum suspend the “zero tolerance” policy for the duration of the immigration legislation negotiations. I know that abuses went on during the Obama Administration and that there is a certain hypocrisy among those who are loudly demonstrating now, while being silent then. But these family separations are too serious to be used to achieve political advantage.
“While family unity and border security are competing factors in this instance, the balance of equities must be on the side of the parents and their children. It is time to put aside the “zero tolerance” agenda and work for real immigration reform and border security.”
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY 4th District) in a statement says:
“The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents is cruel, immoral and stands in complete contrast to American values. And while President Trump has the power to reverse the policy, he is instead choosing to use these kids as political bargaining chips. I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which was introduced today and would prohibit DHS from separating children from their parents except in extraordinary cases, and reunite previously separated children with their parents.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY 8th District) in a statement says:
“Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions made a cold-hearted, callous and calculated decision to rip vulnerable children from the arms of their parents. This immoral policy is unacceptable, un-American and unconscionable. Republicans control the House, the Senate and the Presidency. They are solely responsible for staining our democracy and scarring children for life. The so-called President must end this policy now and stop lying to the American people.”
Rep. Yvette D. Clark (D-NY 9th District) in a statement says:
“Donald Trump’s policy of separating immigrant families at the border is not only cruel, inhumane, and immoral, but is also deeply unsettling to the majority of American people and our global community. The border crisis was manufactured by Trump. He could put an end to all of this, but instead he has chosen to use children and families as leverage to enact divisive immigration policies including his unnecessary $25 billion wall.
“I call on members of both political parties to speak out against this inhumane policy and to continue to resist.”
Clarke also joined other Dems from the Energy and Commerce Committee in calling for immediate hearings into the well-being of children detained at the border.
Rep. Daniel Donovan (R-NY 11th District) in a statement says:
“Our government has a duty to enforce our laws and secure our borders. Nobody wants to see families separated, but this problem won’t be solved unless both sides come to the table to implement meaningful immigration reform. I look forward to voting on comprehensive legislation to fix our backwards and broken system later this week.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12th District) in a press release calling for the Keep Families Together Act to be introduced says:
“We need to stop this inhumane, un-American policy immediately. Speaker Ryan needs to bring the Keep Families Together Act to the floor immediately for a vote. This cruelty is a new low, even for this administration.
“These families have travelled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to keep their children safe and away from the harm that awaits them at home. No one takes that harrowing journey lightly. No one leaves behind the only home they have known, their friends, their extended family if they have any other choice.
“Yet, instead of accepting these refugees with compassion, this administration is persecuting and prosecuting those fleeing danger, taking babies from their mothers’ and fathers’ arms causing irreparable trauma. There is absolutely no justification for this policy. It is cruelty for cruelty’s sake. This cannot be who we are.”
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY 14th District) in a statement says:
“The Trump administration’s family separation policy is child abuse. President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda lays bare the longstanding flaws in America’s immigration system, which is why I worked with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to introduce legislation that will prevent federal immigration enforcement from terrorizing immigrant families with impunity. This is a dark moment in American history, and I am doing everything in my power to end the inhumane treatment of immigrant families arriving at our border.”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY 16th District) in a statement from his office says:
“The Congressman feels its abhorrent and cruel. Today he called for the DHS Secretary to resign over the issue.
“He’s an original cosponsor the newly introduced H.R. 6135, the Keep Families Together Act, which would bar the Trump Administration from separating families at the border. He also cosigned a letter urging appropriators to stop DHS funding for it. He also spoke out at a rally in DC last week on the issue and called what’s happening there racism. He is also a cosponsor of H.R. 5950, the HELP Separated Children Act that would provide resources and counsel and require basic care standards for unaccompanied minors; and a cosponsor of H.Res.927, Condemning the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy.
“We want our constituents to know he is working hard and fighting to end this disgraceful policy.”
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY 17th District) in statement says:
“The Trump Administration’s immoral and illegal policy of separating and detaining immigrant children is tantamount to child abuse. Using the lives of thousands of young children as bargaining chips for the President’s boondoggle border wall and a crackdown on legal immigration is shameful and runs counter to our national character and to the values of decent people everywhere. History will condemn the Administration for this unjustifiable and cruel policy, as it will House Republicans if they fail to act.”
Rep. Paul D. Tonko (D-NY 20th District) in statements posted to Facebook says:
“In just 2 weeks of their new border policy taking children from parents, the Trump Admin broke up more than 600 families with no plan to reunite them. Many fled extreme danger in search of legal asylum. Instead, infants as young as 18 months were ripped from their parents’ arms.
“These are not the actions of a great nation, nor of a people who believe in strength of family. This must end. I am cosponsoring a House Resolution Condemning Separation of Children from their Parents at the Border and demanding we stop this inhumane activity immediately.
“In the months before this so-called “Zero Tolerance” family separation policy was announced, some 700 children were separated from their parents. The number of children acknowledged to have been ripped from their families by the Trump Administration so far:
“1,995 and counting.”
“In the first six weeks of their so-called “Zero Tolerance” border policy, the Trump Administration has separated 1,995 children from their families, and counting. This is inhumane, un-American and needs to stop.
“In addition to the House Resolution Condemning Separation of Children from their Parents at the Border (H. Res. 927), I am cosponsoring the Keep Families Together Act, a bill that would prohibit DHS from separating children from their parents except in extraordinary cases, allow parents to reunite with their kids if separated, and shine a light on any future abuses under this Trump Admin policy.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY 21st District) in a statement from her office says:
“Congresswoman Stefanik led the charge in the House to fix our broken immigration system by signing the discharge petition that is forcing Congress to finally act on immigration. She is currently involved in discussions with Leadership to move the process forward on compromise legislation to address DACA, border security and that would include a provision to stop children from being separated from their parents.
“Congresswoman Stefanik believes the situation of separated minors is an appalling result of our country’s broken immigration system. This is why she is leading the push for substantive immigration reform and recently crossed party lines to sign the discharge petition and force this issue to the table. Congress has kicked the can for too long on substantive immigration reform, and it is time to move forward on tackling the important challenges facing our nation.
“Congresswoman Stefanik intends to support the compromise immigration legislation that was released late last week, though she is still working with her colleagues on final details. She is pleased that it would protect the DACA eligible population, prevent family separation at our border, and provide funding for border security. She would also support standalone legislation to address family separation at our border.
“Our broken immigration system is the fault of both parties and that’s why Congresswoman Stefanik is leading the way and crossing party lines to force the issue.”
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY 22nd District) in a statement says:
“It is difficult to see families separated under any circumstance, however, the safety of American citizens and the security of our borders must be our priority. We must make sure we treat everyone humanely, while ensuring that our immigration laws are respected. Loopholes within our immigration laws and enforcement are easily exploited by human traffickers and criminal gangs, like MS-13. Our country remains open to those looking to build a better life in pursuit of the American dream by immigrating within the clearly established boundaries of our laws.”
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY 23rd District) in a statement says:
“We care about these children being separated from their parents. These kids are unfortunate bystanders to a long-standing epidemic of weak border security and outdated laws. Congress must act in this week’s immigration reform bill to change the law so that children are not ripped from their parents’ arms, but provided a fair and compassionate solution to this heart-wrenching issue.”
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY 26th District) in a statement from his office says:
“Congressman Higgins opposes the President’s Zero Tolerance policy that is tearing apart families. He has expressed his opposition to the Administration’s policy. Congressman Higgins is taking action by cosponsoring the Keeping Families Together Act introduced by Rep. Nadler this week.”
Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY 27th District) in a statement says:
“What sets the United States apart from other counties is our long history of compassion. Despite this, we have developed too many loopholes in our immigration policy that have led to the crisis we are currently experiencing, which is why I am supportive of the bills coming before the House this week. What we need is immediate, legislative action to secure our borders, end chain migration, and provide a solution for children who were brought to this country illegally at no fault of their own. Americans can be assured that President Trump and Republicans in Congress are working hard to deliver these necessary, fundamental changes.
“Certainly the entire problem with illegal immigration is very troubling and its sad that after all of these years we have been unable to seal our porous borders. I look forward to the meeting with the President tonight to talk about the immigration bills that will be on the floor tomorrow, as well as the zero tolerance strategy and separating families.”
Assemblymember Fred Thiele Jr. (I-NY 1st District) in statement says:
“The images and news reports have brought tears to our eyes – and our blood to a boil. We’ve seen crying children separated from their parents and housed in abandoned stores with no one there to hold them and tell them that everything will be alright. We’ve heard their piercing wails as they beg the authorities to reunite them with their mom and dad. For these kids, the confusion and loneliness and the aching for their family must be unbearable, especially when they are sleeping on the floor on thin mattresses in a strange place hundreds of miles from home.
“It’s hard to believe this is happening right here in America. Our country is a nation of immigrants, and I reject any attempt to crack down on desperate people fleeing unimaginable circumstances who are trying to save the lives of their families.”
Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-NY 29th District) in a statement says:
“As a mother and an immigrant I feel the federal policies of this administration are abhorrent. To rip families apart harkens back to a darker time in American History. We should, as a nation, remember our history and not repeat it.
“There is no crime in wanting to be safe from certain death and coming to our borders for asylum.
“I will use my position and advocacy to push back on against the Trump Administration on this racist sexist agenda.”
Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-NY 36th District) in a statement says:
“I think the federal government’s practice of separating children from their parents at the borders is cruel, abhorrent, immoral and possibly unconstitutional. I don’t believe that it will deter families fleeing violence and poverty in their own countries. But no matter what, state sponsored child abuse for purposes of pressuring parents is utterly revolting.
“I’ve signed on to a legislative letter demanding that Attorney General Sessions end this practice and I am disseminating information about organizations that are on the ground in Texas trying to help captive children and their parents.”
Assemblymember Michael Miller (D-NY 38th District) in a statement says:
“I am devastated to hear that our current president finds it acceptable to rip families apart. This is not what America is about. We are better than this. I stand with immigrant families and urge Congress to apply the needed pressure on the current administration to ensure families stay together. This is inhumane and morally corrupt . We should not deter people from trying to create a better life for their families.”
Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-NY 40th District) in a statement says:
“As an immigrant and father of two young daughters, I have never felt such a profound mix of sadness and rage at the same time. This administration’s inhumane tactics, the result of its “zero tolerance” policy, have ripped countless families apart and will continue to harm more children until we as a nation stand up and make our opposition loud and clear. We must do all that we can as elected officials and members of the public to stop this heartless behavior.”
Assemblymember Helene Weinstein (D-NY 41st District) in a statement says:
“These families are escaping oppression and conditions that we, as Americans, cannot begin to comprehend. To rip these children away from the one true source of love and support they’ve come to depend on, and at the young ages reported, will induce long lasting psychological effects. We should be preserving families not demolishing them, and our border policy should reflect that.”
Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-NY 44th District) in a statement says:
“The President’s policy is abhorrent and should be immediately discontinued. It is counter to common decency and family values. Having ICE and Border Control carry out this cruel and inhumane policy is turning our federal government into a force of terror on our southern border and it needs to stop now. I joined my Assembly and Senate colleagues at a rally today in Albany to demand action. This is an immoral policy based on hate, fear and lies. We must #EndItNow.”
Assemblymember William Colton (D-NY 47th District) in a statement says:
“While respecting the rule of law, decency in the application of these laws differentiates us from oppressive regimes. It is a moral imperative that government should not separate children from their parents, especially as part of a strategy to reach a political goal. Solutions, such as keeping families together in detention facilities during the process, must be sought for us to keep our moral standing in the world.”
Assemblymember Latrice Walker (D-NY 55th District) in a statement says:
“As a State Legislator, and foremost as a mother, my heart bleeds for these families. I believe the removal of children from their families is deplorable. The trauma these children have and will continue to experience during this separation will leave emotional scars that may never completely heal. This action is not a step in the right direction. Not only does this cruel practice divide families, it is dividing our country.
“As a representative of a very diverse district, I would be amiss in my duties if I did not provide my constituents with up to date information available to aid and help their loved ones currently involved In this unfortunate situation. I am in close contact with the ACLU, who has taken the lead on this issue and will have up to date information on hand as I address the district during my Legislative Wrap Up Session, next Thursday, June 27th at Mt. Ollie Baptist Church, in Brooklyn.”
Assemblymember Walter Mosley (D-NY 57th District) in a statement says:
“What is happening right now on the border is a deplorable violation of human rights and cruelty to the highest degree. Immigrant families, many of whom are fleeing violence and gangs in their home countries, should not be subjected to further trauma as parents and children are ripped apart. The Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy must be ended immediately, and I urge everyone to call their representatives and urge them to denounce this policy. We must continue to raise our voices to change the abuse happening in our own country, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that we protect the rights and lives of immigrants here in New York and across the country.”
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-NY 66th District) in a statement says:
“I am overwhelmed by the sheer incomprehensibility of the fact that the current government of the United States of America, one of the greatest and most revered democracies in the world, has committed unspeakable atrocities against innocent children. More than 2,000 innocent children and their families have been dehumanized, reduced to political pawns by an Administration that is governing via hostage negotiation.
“As the daughter of Jewish immigrants who fled Nazi Germany, I feel a special responsibility to speak out against the forced separation of children from their families. Nursing babies have been ripped from their mothers, fathers have committed suicide knowing they will never see their children again and toddlers are sitting in cages, wailing for their parents who have already been deported. My family did not flee the terror of Nazi Germany so others could be held prisoner; this is not the America that saved them from the atrocities they witnessed in Germany.
“We as a nation have the ability to decide on which side of history we will fall: will we stay silent or will we stand in the way of intimidation and extreme cruelty by fighting for the very soul of our country.
“We must fight for the babies who yearn for their parents, and for the parents who would give their dying breath to be reunited with their children, who risked everything to provide for their children a better life in America.
“We must demand the Administration stop brutalizing innocent babies. Our democracy is fragile, and we must fight to protect their freedom, but it is the very foundation upon which this country was built.
“History is full of defining moments. Today, we are a country that cages innocent children after they are ripped from the arms of their parents. Only we decide who we will be tomorrow.
Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa (D-NY 72nd District) in a statement says:
“I feel disheartened by what this administration is doing to these families. The family nucleus is being threatened harshly before our eyes and these children are being exposed to unprecedented deplorable ways.
“It is not the appropriate response from a government whose motto is for the people and by the people; well, these are people too regardless of where they come from. What is happening now at the border is cruel, inhumane, and detrimental to the children’s health because it can eventually lead to traumatic repercussions on these Children.
“I joined my colleagues in the NY legislature this morning (Wednesday) to call on the Trump administration to end their cruel policy of separating children from their families. As an immigrant myself, we come to this country because we believe in America and the opportunities afforded here. This administration has made it an objective to destroy the dreams of immigrants and to challenge human rights laws by ripping children from their families. It is wrong, immoral and inhumane! We will not stand by it and we call on the President to end this misguided and cruel policy today. I’m a mother and my child needs and wants me everyday- these children and these families are no different and they belong together!
“In my role, I will continue to work tirelessly in my chamber, with the different task-forces, and with advocates to build coalition in order to perpetuate added pressure on our federal government by demanding sensitivity to these families and to be compassionate for these children who are innocent and have not done any wrongdoing but to be at the mercy of their parent’s decision to seek better living conditions.
“They (my constituents) should know that we need to stand up to all who seek to divide our nation. Wrong is wrong and this administration has crossed the line- children are the purest form of love and we must stand up for them. Let’s unite, organize and continue to resist the hate coming from the White House before it is too late for our families as well.”
Assemblymember Michael Blake (D-NY 79th District) in a statement says:
“The policy of separating parents from children that was created by President Trump, Attorney General Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Nielsen is inhumane, reprehensible and absolutely against family values. To rip apart children from their parents who are primarily seeking rightfully permitted and legal asylum due to the troubling conditions of their home country is unacceptable as we pride ourselves of being a country of Immigrants.
“As a legislator who is a son of Jamaican Immigrants and lives within the most diverse county in America, I co-lead a press conference with many legislators today where we released a letter to A.G. Sessions and Secretary Nielsen demanding the immediate end of this unjust policy. At that press conference, since I am a lay minister, I conveyed that if someone continues to read in Romans Chapter 13, which has been incorrectly and maliciously misused to justify this barbaric policy, you will see that verse ten in that same chapter states: “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law”.
“My team and I are immediately looking into the locations in The Bronx and New York that we have learned about today with detained children to understand their conditions and well being. Moreover, we will actively participate in the calls to action this Saturday and on June 30th to demand that we #KeepFamiliesTogether. We will engage with legal and community advocates to pursue action and protections to help these families in need.
“Ensuring family unification and humanity is the epitome of #BuildingABetterBronx.”
Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-NY 81st District) in a statement says:
“I feel disgusted and appalled about what ICE and Border Patrol agents are doing to families under the policies of President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and Secretary Nielsen. This is not who we are as a country. Separating children from their parents is immoral and repugnant, and the agents who are carrying out these orders should be ashamed of themselves for their complicity. In my opinion, what this administration is doing to these families is a violation of human rights on par with the internment camps of World War II.
“We all know that Donald Trump lacks basic moral integrity, but this is a new low even for him. This is not an appropriate response to what is legally a misdemeanor offense of crossing the border, and we should be focused instead on fixing our broken immigration system so that people have a legitimate way to escape dangerous drug lords and cartels that have ravaged many of these families’ home countries.
“The immediate solution is for the President and Department of Homeland Security to change their policy, which unfortunately is something only they can do. I wish we had enough members of Congress with the courage to stand up to Trump so that the policy could be overturned through legislation, but unfortunately we will have to wait until November when voters can replace these cowards with people who have a conscience. There are 9 Members of Congress in New York State who are enabling this administration’s violations of human rights, and you can bet that I will be supporting and encouraging anybody I know to support their Democratic opponents, all of whom would oppose this horrendous policy.
“I want my constituents to know that they do have elected officials in their district who care about making our country a better place – one that is welcoming to all who wish to be American and are willing to sacrifice so much in order to make that happen. I also want them to know that they have the power to make change through voting and through supporting candidates who reflect values that we hold dear.”
Assemblymember Marcos Crespo (D-NY 85th District) in a statement says:
“My constituents and I are disgusted at this perverse decision by The Trump Administration to rip children from their parents and use them as political pawns in his anti immigrant anti Latino policy negotiations. This is un-American, unlawful and a violation of human rights. As a parent and an elected official I can’t begin to comprehend just how low this administration is willing to go. Elected leaders of all parties, business and industry leaders and Americans across the country can not allow this to go on. Republicans in Congress need to act NOW to end this policy of separating families, this is on them as much as the Executive.”
Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-NY 88th District) in a statement says:
“Here in New York, we have a special connection to the American Dream. Lady Liberty stands in New York Harbor, she still lifts her torch beside the golden door, and she reminds us of how many immigrants over the centuries found refuge in the United States, including those fleeing from violence and persecution, but also those looking to work hard so that their children might have a better life. That’s the America we believe in, but it’s not the America we’ve been living in.
“Instead, we’ve been bombarded with images and sounds that leave us enraged and horrified. Children torn from their parents. Toddlers and innocent youth wailing for their mothers and fathers. Young boys sleeping on mats on the floor surrounded by wire mesh, like prisoners. Young girls being flown thousands of miles under cover of darkness. Anguished parents who have accepted punishment and deportation back to the violent lands they fled from now realizing there is no plan and no timetable for them to see their children again.
“The Trump administration was under no legal obligation to create such chaos and cruelty. The President is neither faithfully executing the laws nor moving the debate forward on the complicated and multifaceted problems with our immigration system by using the most innocent and vulnerable as hostages to bad faith political gamesmanship. It is disingenuous to say the only solution to tearing apart families is to keep those families imprisoned together indefinitely. As an American, it offends me. As a mother and a grandmother, it breaks my heart.
“I join my colleagues in the Assembly Majority in calling on President Trump to rescind this inhumane and unethical policy immediately, and to verify that it will return the 2,300 children already in custody that his policy has ripped out of the arms of their parents. It must end, and it must end today.”
Assemblymember Thomas Abinanti (D-NY 92nd District) in a statement says:
“The Trump administration policy is a new insidious form of torture. The administration is now torturing children by removing them from their parents with no hope of ever seeing them again. This is the way the Third Reich started, by demonizing people, by separating their families and torturing them. Trump clearly doesn’t believe in democracy and is attempting to emulate world renowned dictators like the dictator of North Korea and the dictator of Russia. New York State ought to immediately ensure that the children brought to our state are properly cared for and should open its arms to any of the children who are separated from their parents and we should endeavor to locate their parents and ensure they can be brought back together in the future.
“I know there are children in my district and New York should make sure that we do all possible to keep track of these kids, identify these kids and find their parents and do all we can to bring them back together again and end this insane program by a deranged President.”
Assemblymember David Buchwald (D-NY 93rd District) in a statement says:
“Separating children from their families is wrong. If the President won’t end this new policy, then Congress must act. I have today joined with over 100 New York state legislative colleagues in sending a letter to Washington calling for this inhumane treatment of children to end. We also held a press conference this morning to convey our view that #FamiliesBelongTogether. Yesterday, I also spoke on the commemoration of Juneteenth, the anniversary of the last slaves in our country to learn about the Emancipation Proclamation, and I said on the State Assembly floor, “One of the great ills of slavery in this country was that it separated people from their families and we should learn lessons of history and not repeat the same mistakes.””
Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-NY 97th District) in a statement says:
“As a mom, a grandmother, a daughter and granddaughter of immigrants in this country, I am outraged and furious over the Trump administration’s current policy that separates immigrant children from their parents at the border.
“As Chair of Assembly Committee on Children and Families, I call this policy child abuse, torture, absolutely unacceptable and inhumane—this is America! This horrible policy violates everything we believe in.
“As a former special education teacher, I can tell you— for these families, especially the children whose brains are still developing, traumatic experiences like what they are experiencing at the hand of this administration will cause their brains to enter and remain into a heightened state of stress that can change the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive functioning of these children over their lifetime.
“We must demand this to stop. The Trump administration must stop separating children from their families, we must welcome people who come to our country seeking refuge in a positive way, and we must return these children to their parents now. This policy violates everything we believe in America. This is America, this is democracy. This has to stop now. We have to protect these children. We must stand together and demands that this come to an end today.”
Assemblymember Jame Skoufis (D-NY 99th District) in a statement says:
“Tearing family members apart strikes at the heart of our values as Americans and New Yorkers. Make no mistake: our immigration system is broken and we need stronger borders, but we also need humane solutions. Separating babies and small children from their parents is the furthest thing from humane. The policy currently being pursued needs to be immediately rescinded.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.