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S.3036 - Keep Families Together Act

To limit the separation of families at or near ports of entry.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe children should not be separated from their families when crossing the border illegally. Only if children are being trafficked or abused by their parents should the U.S. government separate them. Parents should continue to be prosecuted without dismantling their families.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that if families crossing the border illegally do not want their children separated from them, then they should not cross the border. Crossing the border illegally is unlawful and everyone should be prosecuted, even if it separates children from their families.

The Keep Families Together Act would stop the separation of immigrant children from their parents when crossing the border, ensuring children can only be separated from their families if they are being trafficked or abused by their parents. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May the Trump Administration's new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy which would separate families caught crossing the border illegally.

“"if you cross the border unlawfully, even a first offense, we're going to prosecute you," Attorney General Sessions said. "If you're smuggling a child, we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally."

The policy would federally prosecute every person caught crossing the border. This not only impacts children of families crossing by making children await their proceedings away from their parents, but asylum seekers, who could potentially end up with federal criminal convictions on their records even if a judge determines they have the right to stay and live in the U.S. According to Miguel A. Nogueras, an assistant federal public defender for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen, more than 500 children have been separated from their parents in the last month alone.

“The United States must not be a country that traumatizes young children by separating them from their parents. Young children have been taken from their parents’ arms and federal law enforcement hasn’t given parents even the most basic information about their children’s whereabouts,” said sponsor of the legislation Senator Feinstein. “Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated. Many of these families are fleeing terrible violence, traveling thousands of miles on foot for the chance to file an asylum claim and save their lives. To traumatize them further is unconscionable, and I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to put an end to this immoral policy.”

“Let me be clear: there is no law requiring this Administration to separate children from their parents—Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen are choosing to tear families apart to intimidate those who are lawfully seeking asylum in our country. It’s extreme, heartbreaking, un-American, and has to stop,” said Senator Durbin.

“These children are being ripped from the arms of their parents for one reason: to terrorize them,” said Senator Blumenthal. “This policy is deeply cruel and fundamentally antithetical to our values, as Americans and as decent human beings. Congress cannot stand idly by – we must stand up against this senseless, punishing policy.”

Historically, if you crossed the border illegally, you would receive a federal misdemeanor charge, and then sent through immigration proceedings. Previous administrations chose not to refer everyone, including children, caught crossing the border, although there have instances where they have. There have been photographs shared across social platforms showing children being detained in holding cells, most often these photos are though to be of children being detained now, but in reality they were taken during the Obama administration.

“There were a lot of things done to undocumented immigrants that the immigration -- the immigrant community was very upset about during the Obama years that Democrats didn't seem as outspoken about. What do you say to people who say, where was all this activism during the Obama years?” Jake Tapper of CNN asked.

“I don't believe that it was nearly to the extent that it is today. And, candidly, I didn't really know enough about it at that time to focus on it. I do know enough about it now. We have had a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. We did have testimony,” Sen. Feinstein said.

The Trump administration defends its position on the matter, stating that they are only enforcing the law, something past administrations failed to do.

Democrats have said this is about American values rather than policy.


Sponsored by: Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 37 Dem / 2 Ind.

See list of cosponsors.

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