Bonin, Martinez Urge City to Support Efforts to Halt “Sick, Inhumane, Heartless” Federal Program Taking Children from Parents Seeking Asylum

LOS ANGELES – Councilmembers Mike Bonin and Nury Martinez today urged the CIty of Los Angeles to officially support efforts to immediately halt “sick, inhumane and heartless” new immigration policies that seize and separate children from their parents at the border.

Bonin and Martinez, both parents of young children, submitted a resolution urging the city to file an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, seeking an injunction against and reversal of the policy. They also submitted a companion resolution, urging the City of Los Angeles to officially support Senator Dianne Feinstein’s “Keep Families Together Act,” ), which would prohibit federal agencies from removing a child from his or her parent or legal guardian, at or near a United States border or port of entry.

“This new policy is sick, inhumane and heartless,” Bonin and Martinez, both parents of young children, said. “It is unfathomable and un-American that our government would deliberately and intentionally cause deep and irreparable harm to children — especially children of families fleeing violence or persecution.”

The resolutions were seconded by Councilmembers José Huizar, Monica Rodriguez, Joe Buscaino, Bob Blumenfiend and Gil Cedillo.

Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero tolerance policy on illegal border crossings and his intention to criminally prosecute 100 percent of people who are captured, including families with children. The most abhorrent aspect of this policy announcement is the specific directive to separate children from their parents — including when families come to the United States seeking asylum. Previously, most parents had been allowed to remain with their children in family shelters while awaiting asylum cases or deportation proceedings.

“Families are being literally ripped apart by our government. Terrified children are screaming for parents they are being kept from seeing. This is appalling,” said Bonin. “This administration is actively instructing immigration agents to become traitors to the ideals that once made America a truly great country, and we cannot sit idly by and allow this moral atrocity to be carried out in our names.”

Under the policy announced by Attorney General Sessions, children are separated from their parents and transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, which then turns over the separated children to relatives in the United States or to shelters run by private organizations.

Just this past weekend, it was reported that 177 women who were taken into custody at the United States border while seeking asylum are currently being held at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in Seattle, and about half were separated from their children. Several dozen of these women have reported that they did not realize what was happening when they were torn from their children. In several cases, they were effectively lured into another room to have their photograph taken, then moved to a separate room from their children, while never being afforded an opportunity to even say goodbye. These children could be heard screaming and asking for their mothers just one room away, while the mothers were denied the ability to see or hold their children.

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