The practice of separating children from their parents, which has been criticized by the United Nations, is "an insult to American family values," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a letter signed by more than 20 other mayors to the U.S. attorney general and the head of Homeland Security.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, joined by more than 20 other mayors, is condemning the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on asylum seekers who have crossed into the U.S. without permission.
The policy entails the forcible separation of children from their parents and is expected to result in a substantial increase in migrant children living in government shelters away from their guardians and caregivers, Durkan’s office said in a statement Friday.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed last month to arrest and prosecute all people who enter the U.S. illegally, part of what he called a “zero tolerance” policy aimed at curbing the flow of migrants across the southern border.
On Thursday, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project said the Trump administration was holding more than 100 asylum seekers in SeaTac’s federal prison, including many women who have been separated from their children at the southwest border, and are facing prosecution for unlawful entry.
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The practice, which has been criticized by the United Nations, is “an insult to American family values,” Durkan, who is in Boston for an annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, wrote Thursday in a letter to Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“Many of these families are fleeing violence in their home countries, and it is inhumane to punish them for seeking safety and invoking their right to seek asylum in the U.S.” she wrote.
The Democratic mayors of cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and Orlando signed onto the letter, Durkan’s office said.
Under federal law and international treaties, people can obtain asylum in the U.S. if they have a well-grounded fear of persecution back home. Trump administration officials and their allies have charged that the system is rife with fraud and groundless claims, and have demanded stricter standards.
Durkan plans to introduce an emergency resolution at the conference that calls for allowing apprehended immigrant families to remain together “to the extent possible,” her office said. The resolution would also call on Congress to take immediate action to end the so-called “zero-tolerance” policy.