Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, joined 11 other Republican Senators Tuesday in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for an end to the separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Although enforcing immigration laws is a key responsibility of the federal government, the letter reads, it should be done in a way that is “consistent with our values and ordinary human decency.”
The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Orin Hatch, of Utah, and supported by senators in Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Ohio.
The full letter is below:
“Like millions of Americans, we have read with increasing alarm reports of children being separated from their parents at the southern border. Although enforcing our immigration laws is an essential responsibility of the federal government, it must be done in a way that is consistent with our values and ordinary human decency.
The current family separation crisis has multiple contributing causes, including court decisions that require release rather than detention of children but not parents who enter our country illegally. But the immediate cause of the crisis is your Department’s recent institution of a “zero tolerance” policy under which all adults who enter the United States illegally are referred for prosecution, regardless of whether such individuals are claiming asylum and regardless of whether they are accompanied by minor children.
We support the administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents. We therefore ask you to halt implementation of the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally without requiring the forced, inhumane separation of children from their parents. We believe a reasonable path forward can be found that accommodates the need to enforce our laws while holding true to other, equally essential values.”
In a statement Tuesday, Senator Alexander said Trump’s administration should end the policy immediately while Congress works on a bipartisan immigration solution that secures the border, provides a status for those already here, and “prevents a humanitarian crisis at the border.”
Meanwhile, activists here with Indivisible Memphis are organizing a call-to-action meeting in response to the “horrific” separation of families. “We seek to take action in support of the asylum-seekers and help keep families together,” the event’s Facebook page reads.
The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 25th at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. So far, 219 people have RSVPed via Facebook and 848 have showed interest.