In a message aimed at the Donald Trump administration, Gov. John Hickenlooper has issued an order barring Colorado state agencies from separating children from their parents

Share story

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s governor joined critics of the Trump administration’s separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, issuing a largely symbolic order Monday barring state agencies from supporting separations based on immigration status.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s order essentially reinforces existing state policy. It also notes that it does not interfere “with routine state law enforcement activities, even if such activity results in independent federal law enforcement involvement and enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

There is no known use of state resources in separating children from parents on the ground that their families violated U.S. immigration law, said Shelby Weiman, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office.

Hickenlooper acted after condemning the separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. He urged congressional leaders to act on a bill that would allow U.S. officials to separate migrant children from their parents only when there is suspected abuse or human trafficking.

That bill is backed by Senate Democrats.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families this spring after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy referring all cases of illegal entry 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.

“We recognize the importance of managing migration across our borders, but intentionally separating children from their families is cruel and un-American,” Hickenlooper wrote. “The practice runs in conflict of our values as Coloradans and as a country.”

Former first lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine are among many protesting the separations. President Donald Trump has blamed Democrats and is pressuring them to negotiate with Republicans on a separate immigration bill.