RICHMOND (June 19, 2018
) – Today, Attorney General Mark R. Herring joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general calling
on United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end the cruel attacks on children and families lawfully seeking asylum in the United States as they seek protection from domestic, sexual and gang violence. In recent weeks, the federal government has separated thousands of asylum-seeking children from their parents, and reclassified the protective status of international domestic violence survivors. Attorney General Herring joined the coalition of 21 attorneys general demanding that United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions immediately stop putting children in danger by separating them from their families.
“This policy is a stain on the soul of our country. If we are to live the values we proclaim we cannot let President Trump and Attorney General Sessions continue to break up families and separate children from their parents,” said Attorney General Herring. “The Justice Department has once again put politics before its legal and moral obligations by separating families who seek lawful asylum in our country. For centuries, the United States has stood as a beacon of hope and a safe harbor for those escaping harm, which is why we demand Attorney General Sessions and the Trump Administration immediately stop these heartless practices.”
“Put simply, the deliberate separation of children and their parents who seek lawful asylum in America is wrong. This practice is contrary to American values and must be stopped. We demand that you immediately reverse these harmful policies in the best interests of the children and families affected,” the attorneys general write in the letter to Sessions.
Attorney General Herring and the coalition of attorneys general argues that in addition to being cruel and dangerous, these policies are, at their core, violations of international, federal and state law, as well as of judicial precedent. Almost universally, those laws and precedents state that children’s best interests are in remaining with their parents, absent a rigorous judicial inquiry. The Department of Justice is ignoring those best interests, putting politics ahead of children.
The letter also reads, “These practices directly interfere with the efforts of our offices and other law enforcement officials—locally, nationally, and internationally—to prevent and prosecute crime. In most states, Attorneys General are responsible for enforcing laws that include human trafficking, drug trafficking, and gang violence offenses. As you are keenly aware, these issues are rarely local in context, rather they require the efforts and collaboration of law enforcement officials across both state and international borders to prevent the widespread and syndicated perpetration of these crimes.”
Attorney General Herring is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in demanding an immediate change in policy.