TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today demanded that federal officials halt the practice of separating immigrant families, stating that the policy is undermining community trust and hurting law enforcement efforts.
“What’s happening on the border is having a direct impact on what’s happening in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Grewal. “As a career prosecutor, I’ve seen that law enforcement works best when it has the trust of local communities, and the heartlessness of the Administration’s family separation policy is undermining the trust we’ve worked so hard to build. That makes it less likely crime victims and witnesses will come forward to work with law enforcement and that, in turn, makes our communities less safe.”
Attorney General Grewal is among 21 Attorneys General throughout the country who sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today opposing the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of jailing immigrant parents who’ve been detained at border crossings – even parents seeking asylum in the U.S. – and forcibly separating their children.
The multi-state letter describes the policy as “draconian,” “inhumane,” and “contrary to American values.”
In addition, the letter states that the practice seriously undermines daily efforts by law enforcement to prevent and prosecute crime.
Specifically, the letter notes, state Attorneys General are tasked with investigating and prosecuting such criminal enterprises as human trafficking, drug trafficking, and violent gang activity, and these issues “are rarely local in context.”
Rather, the letter argues, they “require the efforts and collaboration of law enforcement across both state and international borders to prevent the widespread and syndicated perpetration of these crimes.”
“The practice of mandatory separation is both inhumane and contrary to the efforts of law enforcement and others who dedicate their tireless efforts to stopping violent criminals,” the letter asserts.
In addition to pointing out the potential for diminished trust in law enforcement, today’s letter suggests that – absent a “rigorous judicial inquiry” that determines a parent is unfit – splitting up families “raises serious concerns” regarding possible violation of children’s rights, as well as the “constitutional principles of due process and equal protection.”
“Put simply,” the letter states, “the deliberate separation of children and their parents as part of an overall design to deter individuals from seeking lawful asylum in America is wrong.”
The letter concludes by demanding that the Administration “immediately reverse” its policy of separating families at the border.
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