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NEW YORK: Democratic lawmakers joined protesters outside immigration detention facilities in New Jersey and Texas on Sunday for Father’s Day demonstrations against the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
“This must not be who we are as a nation,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, one of seven members of Congress from New York and New Jersey who met with five detainees inside a facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, including three who said they had young relatives removed from their care after seeking asylum at the border.
The events came as news stories highlighting the family separations intensified political pressure on the White House, even from some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans.
US officials said on Friday that nearly 2,000 children were separated from adults at the border between mid-April and the end of May.
In May, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy in which all those apprehended entering the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum, would be criminally charged, which generally leads to children being separated from their parents.
Administration officials have defended the tactic as necessary to secure the border and suggested it would act as a deterrent to illegal immigration.
But the policy has drawn condemnation from medical professionals, religious leaders and immigration activists, who warn that some children could suffer lasting psychological trauma.