A bipartisan group of former U.S. attorneys has penned an open letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling on him to end the Trump administration’s highly controversial family separation policy at the border.
The 75 former U.S. attorneys condemned the zero tolerance policy, announced by Sessions in May, under which children are put into shelters while parents facing prosecution for illegally crossing the border into the United States are jailed.
“Your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children,” they wrote in a letter published Monday on Medium.
“We also emphasize that 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,” they continued.
“It is time for you to announce that this policy was ill-conceived and that its consequences and cost are too drastic, too inhumane, and flatly inconsistent with the mission and values of the United States Department of Justice.”
Although President Donald Trump and several members of his administration, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, have repeatedly claimed the family separation policy must be enforced, legal experts, including this group of attorneys, have challenged such an assertion.
“As former U.S. Attorneys, we know that none of these consequences ― nor the policy itself ― is required by law,” they wrote in their letter to Sessions. “Rather, its implementation and its execution are taking place solely at your direction, and the unfolding tragedy falls squarely on your shoulders.”
They continued: “It is time for you to announce that this policy was ill-conceived and that its consequences and cost are too drastic, too inhumane, and flatly inconsistent with the mission and values of the United States Department of Justice. It is time for you to end it.”
The former U.S. attorneys join a growing number of lawmakers, child care experts and concerned Americans speaking out against the policy, under which border officials separated nearly 2,000 children from their parents between April 19 and May 31.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Trump could “stop the policy with one phone call” during an appearance Friday on CNN.
“If you don’t like families being separated, you can tell [the Department of Homeland Security] to stop doing it,” Graham said.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), whose district includes a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, also criticized the policy.
“We should not be using kids as a deterrent policy,” Hurd said Saturday on CNN. “This is something I think is actually unacceptable, and is something that as Americans we shouldn’t be doing.”
“This is clearly something that the administration can change,” he added. “They don’t need legislation to change it.”