News Releases

New legislation would halt separation of immigrant children from their parents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and 31 of their Senate colleagues have introduced legislation to keep immigrant families together by preventing the Department of Homeland Security from separating children from their parents at the border. The legislation is a direct response to the Trump administration’s newly-announced practice of separating adults and children.

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Trump’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy, hundreds of children have been separated from their parents and are being held in detention centers and other institutional facilities. This has resulted in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) having to quickly find new detention space. ICE is currently holding more than 170 women at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, many of whom were separated from their children at the border.

“As a mother and grandmother, the idea of having your child taken from you and sent away is an absolute nightmare—and the idea that this Administration is using this as a so-called ‘deterrent strategy’ is horrifying and unacceptable,” Sen. Murray said. “This issue strikes close to home with the reports of so many women being held in our state, so it’s critical we raise awareness, build momentum, and take steps to counteract the Trump administration’s ill-advised and immoral policy surrounding those seeking safety in our country.”

“I am concerned about the detainees who were moved to SeaTac. The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents is inhumane and contrary to American values. Congress must take immediate action to end this cruel and senseless policy,” said Sen. Cantwell. 

The Keep Families Together Act was developed in consultation with child welfare experts to ensure the federal government is acting in the best interest of children. The bill is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Children’s Law Center and the Young Center for Immigrant Rights.

Last week, Senators Murray and Cantwell demanded the Trump Administration stop further traumatizing children and end its inhumane policy of separating innocent boys and girls from families who cross the Southwest border seeking asylum in the United States. Citing the American Academy of Pediatrics, the senators stressed the short- and long-term damage to these children from being unnecessarily separated from their families.

In addition to Senators Murray and Cantwell, the bill is cosponsored by 31 senators, including Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-NJ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).