U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) cosponsored legislation introduced this week to end the practice of separating families at the U.S.-México border. The Keep Families Together Act prohibits Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances. The bill is a response to the “zero-tolerance” policy announced by the Trump administration on April 6, 2018. This policy mandates criminal prosecution of each immigrant crossing the border with zero discretion, even for those legally seeking asylum. Currently, the policy has resulted in over 2,000 children being separated from their families.
“Tearing families apart is outrageous and immoral – and goes against América’s founding principles and values,” said Perlmutter. “To be clear, the Trump Administration is making a choice to separate families. The law does not mandate family separation in these cases. Despite false claims from President Trump and other cabinet officials, this Administration has the authority to keep families together – just as other Republican and Democratic presidential administrations have done in the past. If the Trump administration is going to continue to choose to rip families apart, Congress must immediately pass stand-alone legislation prohibiting the practice of separating immigrant families.”
“To be clear, the Trump Administration is making a choice to separate families. The law does not mandate family separation in these cases.”
Congressman Ed Perlmutter
The Keep Families Together Act restricts the prosecution of parents seeking asylum as they flee violence, establishes a preference for family unity, requires all CBP officers and agents to complete child welfare training on an annual basis, and requires DHS to develop policies allowing parents and children to locate each other and reunite if they have been separated.
Perlmutter supports the immediate passage of the Keep Families Together Act, but continues to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
“The Senate passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill in 2013, yet in the last five years Republican leaders in the House have failed to bring a comprehensive bill to the floor,” said Perlmutter. “We need to fix our immigration system in a way that creates American jobs, strengthens our border, and provides undocumented Americans an earned pathway to citizenship.”
Perlmutter is an original cosponsor of the Keep Families Together Act introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the House companion to the bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein. On June 18, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order barring Colorado resources from being used to separate immigrant families and sent a letter to congressional leaders expressing support for the Keep Families Together Act.
Perlmutter is also a cosponsor of H.R. 858, the DREAMers, Immigration, and Refugees (DIRe) Legal Act which would provide funding for nonprofits to give legal assistance to children and families impacted by President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy.