(KMSP) - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and attorneys general from 19 other states sent a letter to United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday asking them to stop separating children from their parents at the border.
In the letter, the attorneys general expressed their “strong opposition” to the Justice Department’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy which sends parents who cross the U.S. border illegally, even those seeking asylum, to federal prisons instead of immigrant detention centers and places their children into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
“The policy is not only inhumane, but it also raises serious questions 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,” the letter said.
“And really that sets America apart, that we do have a constitution, that we do apply equal protection of the law and due process of law," Attorney General Swanson told Fox 9. "That sets us apart from other countries, and it’s something that is expected to be followed.”
The attorneys general pointed out that the fundamental rights of children are expressed in international, federal and state laws. Those laws are designed to protect the best interests of children and “a child’s best interest is served by remaining with his or her family,” they wrote in the letter.
Additionally, the letter argued that the practice of separating children from their parents is “contrary to American values and must be stopped.”
The letter was signed Swanson and attorneys general from New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
The U.S. House is about to vote on two new immigration bills to resolve the issue, but Democrat Congressman Tim Walz is undecided how he will vote.
“Both are pretty poor proposals,” said Walz, who represents the First Congressional District. “They’re predicated on a blackmail of keeping children with their families if we provide $25 billion for border wall.”
As the crisis grows, the President and his supporters argue the only crime committed is by the illegal immigrants who broke U.S. law.
One person who knows the ordeal is Daniel Del Toro, who lives in Richfield, Minn. He is an undocumented worker who cross the border as an orphan 28 years ago.
“Trying to seek a better life and a better future, I don’t see it as a crime,” said Del Toro.
Governor Dayton issued a statement saying if the federal government requested the National Guard to help patrol the southern border, he would not send them.
President Trump will be appearing in Duluth Wednesday for a rally and a round table event.