HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen was one of 21 Democratic attorneys general who signed onto a letter calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his zero tolerance policy regarding family separation at the border.
The letter led by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas calls for an “immediate” end to the policy, which was announced on April 6 by Sessions.
“The policy is not only inhumane, but it also raises serious concerns regarding the violation of children’s rights, constitutional principles of due process and equal protection, and the efforts of state law enforcement officials to stop crime,” Balderas writes. “Because of these concerns, we demand that the Department of Justice immediately cease these draconian practices.”
The letter adds: “The notion that the government should intrude into the rights of a parent to be with their child has historically been met with extremely high levels of scrutiny. Thus, the deliberate separation of families for the express purpose of furthering an immigration policy is contrary to our laws.”
In a statement Jepsen said the practice “violates the basic norms.”
“The separation of children from their parents, families and caretakers at the border is abhorrent,” Jepsen said Tuesday. “It violates the basic norms we live by as a country and the best interests of these children. It should stop immediately.”
In a separate letter more than 70 former U.S. Attorneys called the policy a “radical departure” from previous Justice Department policy.
“Every administration for decades has grappled with the complexities inherent in families illegally crossing our borders,” they wrote. “Until now, every administration has chosen a path that has balanced the need for effective enforcement and deterrence with humanity and compassion … In the name of deterring illegal immigration, your Zero Tolerance policy abandons that balance.”
Sessions defended the policy Monday in a Fox News interview.
“We’re doing the right thing. We’re taking care of these children,” Sessions said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that the policy is wrong and reminiscent of the “darkest moment in our history, when Japanese families in America were rounded up and detained in internment camps.”
“Make no mistake – the Trump administration’s hands are not tied here. There is no law that mandates this practice,” Malloy said. They are not being forced or coerced into stealing migrant children away from their parents. They are proactively electing to implement this policy and to take such actions.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said Monday that the fact that the president would choose to leverage these children is “unconscionable.”
“I don’t know how Republicans sleep at night if they aren’t willing to show up this week and pass legislation to stop this practice. It’s absolutely barbaric.”