Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators are taking aim at a new federal policy that separates children from families crossing into the country illegally. The issue already has sparked protests locally by immigrant and child-welfare advocates.
The policy, announced by the Trump administration in April, seeks criminal prosecution for adults crossing the border illegally. That would involve separating children from the adults
New legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Jack Reed, expressly prohibits separating children from their families simply to deter others from attempting to cross into the country.
“This approach is at odds with core American values and accomplishes nothing positive,” said Reed. “Indeed, according to Homeland Security, the number of immigrants apprehended between ports of entry, actually increased last month.”
Reed was joined by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Monday at Dorcas International Institute, a refugee and immigrant resource and education center in Providence.
“We cannot close every avenue for the Trump administration to pursue this harm to immigrant families,” said Reed. “But this legislation would be an important first step in improving how DHS treats families seeking refuge.”
The legislation also calls for specific guidelines for reuniting children with family members should they be separated upon entering the country. It’s unclear if the measure will move forward in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Editor's note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the new policy was announced in May. It was April.