U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is moving to the forefront in calling on President Donald Trump to end a program that’s resulting in children and parents being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, a policy she calls “heinous and barbaric” and “an affront on the heart and soul of our nation.”
“President Trump should immediately reverse his administration’s new ‘zero tolerance policy’ for migrants at the border,” Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, said in initial comments June 14.
“He only has to say the word in order to stop the internment of thousands of innocent children and release them back to their parents,” Cortez Masto said.
“Separating families is not only inhumane, it is against everything we stand for as a country,” Cortez Masto stated.
In a separate Facebook post on June 18, Cortez Masto ramped up her criticism of the program.
“President Trump’s policy is an affront on the heart and soul of our nation,” she said. “He could end this crisis today if he wanted. Instead, he continues to spread lies and use children to score political points with his base. It’s not only wrong, but it flies in the face of our American values.”
“…This humanitarian crisis falls solely on the shoulders of the Trump administration. There is no law on the books that mandates ripping a baby from its mother’s arms – including those fleeing extreme violence or horrific circumstances.”
Cortez Masto thanked former first Lady Laura Bush “for speaking out against the Trump administration’s heinous and barbaric policy of separating families at the southwest border.”
Cortez Masto quoted a June 17 Washington Post column in which Bush wrote that the “zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”
Cortez Masto wrote: “I hope the Trump administration and his GOP allies heed the moral and compassionate words of our former first lady.”
Trump: ‘I hate it’
Trump was confronted with the issue the next day when he was asked whether he agrees with children being taken away.
“No, I hate it,” Trump said. “I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law…”
He was told by a reporter: “Sir, that’s your own policy. That’s your own policy. Why do you keep lying about it, sir?”
Trump said: “Quiet. Quiet. That’s the Democrats’ law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now.”
Trump later said a change could not be made through an executive order.
“The children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully and immediately…,” Trump also said. “I hate to see separation of parents and children…”
Cortez Masto said she has “co-sponsored legislation to stop tearing families apart and protect children’s rights.”
“But let me be clear: this crisis was not caused by Congress,” she said. “It was caused by President Trump. He only has to say the word in order to stop the internment of thousands of innocent children and release them back to their parents.”
More than 2,000 children
The Trump administration continues to face heavy criticism for enforcing the law, which has led to more than 2,000 children being separated from families who tried to enter the U.S. illegally in just the six weeks since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “zero-tolerance” approach, Fox News reported over the weekend.
“We do not want to separate children from their parents. We do not want adults to bring children into this country unlawfully, placing them at risk,” Sessions said in prepared remarks Monday. “But we do have a policy of prosecuting adults who flout our laws to come here illegally instead of waiting their turn or claiming asylum at any port of entry. We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.”
Most of the children we are caring for came without adults, Sessions said.
In total, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is spending more than a billion taxpayer dollars a year caring for these minors, he said. “That is an enormous cost that we bear because we sent a message to those crossing illegally to bring children and avoid prosecution and deportation. This country is dedicated to caring for children.”
Trump said Monday, “The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility… not on my watch.”