Senator Collins Joins 12 Colleagues in Calling on Justice Department to Halt Family Separations While Congress Works on Legislative Fix

Washington, DC — U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined a group of 13 senators in sending a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions today calling for a halt to the practice of separating families who have illegally crossed the US-Mexico border. The letter petitions the administration to stop enforcement of this policy until Congress can pass legislation to keep families together.

 

“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 Senators wrote.  "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."

 

The letter was led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and was also signed by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Dean Heller (R-NV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), James Lankford (R-OK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Rob Portman (R-OH).

 

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

 

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 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 work with the relevant Administration officials to stop the separation of families pursuant to the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally. 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.