Letter to the President from the Massachusetts State Senate

June 20, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

We write to you as a united and bipartisan group of Massachusetts State Senators, to denounce the immoral policy of separating children from their parents when they seek asylum at the United States border with Mexico. We believe this policy is toxic to our reputation as a country and, most importantly, damaging to the families it impacts. This policy has already separated over 2,300 children from their families; the federal government has an affirmative duty to reunite every family that was separated by this policy.

Further, rising public knowledge of this new un-American practice by your administration has created outrage and deep sorrow across our country. In a time when politics regarding immigration policy has become more divisive than ever, response to these actions has united Republicans, Democrats, independents, family advocates, and business groups – all calling for the common sense practice to keep families united.

In recent days we have watched closely as Secretary Nielsen, Attorney General Sessions, and others in your administration have sought to explain and give context for this reprehensible practice. It is clear based on these contradictory explanations that this policy, at best, is ill-advised and is being poorly implemented. As was written in a New Yorker headline this week, “The U.S. Has No Plan for the Immigrant Families It Is Tearing Apart”.

The significant challenges facing our nation when “unaccompanied minors” arrive at the United States border and are detained are not new. In Massachusetts, we gained firsthand experience with some of these issues in 2014 when the Commonwealth (and other states across the nation) offered to temporarily house such minor children in secure facilities in our state while they were processed by federal immigration officials. This became necessary because of the significant increase in “unaccompanied minors” crossing the border with Mexico without their parents or other adults, leading to overfilling in federal holding facilities in border states.

In this case though, this policy is creating a significant and costly humanitarian crisis for thousands of children by your administration’s own choosing. The policy – established by your administration – to separate children from the custody of their parents created this crisis.

As we understand it, this current crisis stems from a policy decision that Attorney General Sessions made in recent months to begin a “zero tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting every adult illegally crossing the border into the United States. In such cases in recent months, children have not been allowed to be held with their parents who have been arrested and charged with a federal crime, creating this current nightmare. This change in practice and policy was forecasted by your administration, including by your current Chief of Staff on March 6, 2017 when he told CNN he was considering implementing (then as Secretary of DHS) such a practice to deter illegal border crossings.

It has been reported that nearly seventy separations of children from their parents are occurring per day, an unacceptable and frightening statistic. Clearly, this new practice has created chaos and needed to be revoked immediately. Every day that this policy was in place, we created another generation of children who will face severe challenges in the future.

We are fortunate in Massachusetts to have bipartisan consensus that rejects this policy. Governor Charlie Baker has referred to this policy as “inhumane treatment of children” and senior Senator Elizabeth Warren has labeled it an “outrage visited on the American people”. Among the many other voices that have spoken out across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in recent days. They remind us that when the United States has turned our back on children in peril, it has remained a stain on our nation’s promise and spirit.

We ask you to take swift and decisive action to reunite every family that was separated by this inhumane and un-American policy. Please support pending legislation that would ameliorate the current circumstance through Congressional action to make sure this never happens again. We urge you to take action on this pressing matter as soon as possible.

Respectfully,

The Massachusetts State Senate

CC:
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Ed Markey
Congressman Richard Neal
Congressman Jim McGovern
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas
Congressman Joe Kennedy
Congresswoman Katherine Clark
Congressman Seth Moulton
Congressman Mike Capuano
Congressman Stephen Lynch
Congressman Bill Keating
Governor Charlie Baker
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

Join the Conversation

73 Comments

  1. Great letter! The inhumanity of this administration is growing day by day. It brings shame on all of us. Thanks for doing this.

  2. Thank you for standing up for the rights of children who cannot speak for themselves. This is an atrocious act that needs to be addressed immediately. All children should be re-united with their parents now.
    We are lucky to have a delegation in Massachusetts who will speak for children and advocate for their rights and the rights of their parents. Thank you so much for being true statesmen and stateswomen who understand and value the rights of families who are seeking to come to this country because we believe in
    the four freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

    Ann Capoccia

  3. Thank you so much,Will, for sending us this inspiring statement by the Mass State Senate.

    Paul & Phyl Solomon

  4. Thank you for sending this letter. It looks like this heinous policy has been stopped. But what about all the families that have been separated? Will the children be reunited with their parents?

    Best,
    Wendy Drexler

  5. An excellent response – but there is much more to be done. Although he has issued the Executive order to stop the separations, the reality is that there is nothing in place to reunite the families already separated. Some parents have already been deported and have no idea where their children are. A former ICE Director under Obama says that many of these families will never be reunited.Trump;s Executive Order has a number of caveats and in any case, there are no facilities available now that can accommodate keeping families together. The suffering has just begun. We need to kee the pressure on.

  6. This is unbelievable. How about these people not come into the US illegally. If they get caught the parents want the kids to be separated so they get into the US. Did you see the kid that they took back, he was afraid of his father, because he failed to get in to the US. We need the wall fast. Let’s just keep letting the drugs and the MS13 Gang members in we have plenty of sactuary city for them to keep committing their crimes.

  7. Thank you to the bi-partisan Senate of MA for sending this letter of protest against what is essentially a crime against humanity.
    The trauma inflicted on these children separated brutally from their families will not be easy to heal, apart from the fact they may never find their families again. Shame on this Administration for permitting this barbaric procedure.

  8. Thank you, thank you. I am horrified by this policy and am so appreciative of your standing up for families.

  9. Excellent letter. Thanks to everyone who signed and crafted it. Today’s decision doesn’t change the situation as the administration has no plans to reunite the children with their parents. This is not who we are.

  10. Thank you. The so-called “zero tolerance policy” towards asylum seekers looks and smells like the same kind of racism that ssent boatloads of my people back to GGermany to be murdered by Hitler. These aasylum seekers deserve fair hearings, nnot a hate filled response that strips them of their children. After the JJapanese Internment America said “never aagain” only to batter the innocent and desperate with brutality I find reminiscent of the callous brutality of the Gestapo of the WWII Nazi regime. What must surviving WWII veterans think of what America has become?

  11. Thank you for championing decency and opposing the heartless, inhumane policy of separating families. Now we need to focus on reuniting those who have been separated and determining how to protect the human rights of people — individuals or members of families — seeking asylum if the administration insists on continuing its zero tolerance policy.

  12. Thank you so much for taking this action. I hope you continue the fight to end family detention, as well. Families seeking assylum and refugees do not belong in prison. They deserve to be treated with dignity, compassion and respect.

  13. I think the Mass. Senate should spend more time helping the the children & single mothers of the Commonwealth…. rather than families from other countries & not United States citizens !

    The expense alone would be prohibitive — never mind it would add to every existing problem that Boston has already — such as Crime – Guns- Murder-Affordable Housing – High School Drop Outs- DRUGS —Gangs —Jobs— & so much more !

    These problems have been with us for decades & getting worse…… Not just in Boston but every major City in America .

    As the expression goes….. “If your not part of the solution… your part of the problem “

  14. I agree that parental separation is criminal and IS child abuse. I agree with this letter.

    That being said, EVERY day, Massachusetts Family and Probate courts do virtually the same thing to fathers. This is child abuse on a local level. Fathers are relegated often to “visitors” after separation and divorce. They ARE NOT treated EQUALLY and this is WRONG.

    According to the CDC and the Pew Research, almost 30% of children of divorced and separated parents by the age of 18 will either no longer live with their biological dad or even have no contact with their father. The affects on the children are well documented. These children on average do worse in school, have higher rates of drug, and alcohol abuse. Higher rate of gang violence and are more likely to land in jail. The fathers, on the other hand are so devastated by the loss of contact with their children that they have the highest rates of suicide in our land.

    We should be appalled at separating parents from their kids, but nationally and locally.

    On a local level. We can try to improve it. We can pass the Child Centered Family Law bill, HB 3090. Please ASK Senator Brownsberger and all of your State Reps and Senators to support HB 3090.

    Help keep kids and parents together. HB 3090 will help to do this on our own local level..

    1. Well said, the lefties all jump on the bandwagon when some poor saps from El Salvador are taking it on the chin but they don’t say a word when the probate court/divorce industry meat grinder imposes similar misery and destruction on citizens FOR PROFIT day in and day out, year in and year out. Instead they’re praised for it.

    1. We are a country of laws, these people choose to break the law and they cheer and protest for them ! If I break a law I expect the consequences, come here legally in the first place and the problem is solved ! Actions have consequences! Plus this law has been in effect since Bill Clinton was in office, no outrage for 22 years ! Face it it’s all about resisting Trump instead of working with him to solve the illegal immigration problem !

  15. An excellent letter–thank you for being part of this effort, Will.

    Now, of course, the question is how to reunite the children and parents that have already been separated. I haven’t heard any plans to do this. As unbelievable as it sounds, apparently these families were separated without any thought to how they would be reunited–or perhaps even knowing that they never would be.

    Could that possibly be true?

  16. Thank you, Will all who crafted this excellent letter. I am sickened by the inhuman policy of separating families. And what now will become of the young children and parents who have been torn apart? What a shameful act.
    Thank you for standing against it.

  17. Nice job. Thanks. He changed his mind today, but don’t think it was Melanie or Ivanka. He is so neurotic and pathetic he can’t stand to feel unpopular. Meanwhile, 2,300 children are separated from their parents indefinitely.

  18. Don’t sneak into America with your kids or someone else’s kids in order to get to stay. Seems people who can’t speak English and have no skills come here for a free ride. Who pays to house them? Feed them? phones? medical care? TV service? Transportation? The working American people do. Wish I could do that.

  19. Apparently the 2,300+ kids taken, some in Michigan & Maryland in foster homes, already!!, will not be and maybe never be reunited with their parents. We may yet see a whole new generation of Dreamers growing up, as in the past, with no memory of their native country,as Americans. I guess Mr. Trump wants his own band of Trump Dreamers! And the kids in border town tents, ex Walmart Blds. if re-united, may simply be put in jail with their parents. What a typical, UN-thought through mess this is from our President!

  20. Thank you Mass. Senate for the statement. Our country has horrifically, morally declined. We need to shout in unison to rise out of the political tepid, moral weakness of our Congress. November to vote can’t come soon enough.
    Yes, America has a long term immigration problem and such inhumanity only exacerbates the problem.
    On a personal note, a commenter notes that people come in with low skills and no English. My grandfather came to as a child, he could only speak a German dialect.

  21. Thank you for this strong statement to President Trump. What our country’s government has done, in our name and to “protect” us, to 2300 children and their families is horrifying. Please keep the pressure on to ensure that the necessary corrective action is taken to reunite the broken families our government has just created. There is a moral obligation not to forget them and move on to focus on the next outrage if the day. I feel proud and lucky to live in Massachusetts and think it is an important duty of our state government to speak up and apply political pressure to help stop atrocities committed elsewhere by our federal government. Thank you!

  22. Excellent letter. We need to continue to pressure to have separated families be reunited. These persons are fleeing violent situations, and should be welcomed into our country in the name of liberty.

  23. Thank you. This letter brings me to tears. This policy is horrible. I hope the new policy doesn’t become unlimited detention for families. I was at the State House yesterday when 1000s of Massachusetts residents showed up to express their outrage. I am glad the Senate has given us such a strong voice at the national level.

  24. Well written. Thank goodness there has been an executive order reversal of the policy. But as you wrote there has to be immediate reunification of families. What an unnecessary nightmare this WH has created.

    Thank you for writing this.

  25. Thank you so much for sending this message. I want to add that as a researcher on public health and also as a result of my own and my mother’s experiences, taking children from their parents is permanently emotionally damaging, and all these kids need to be reunited YESTERDAY. Kids and parents both will likely need counseling and therapy to help them deal with the trauma which I can guarantee they’re going through and which is having physical effects on their brains making them more likely to suffer from chronic anxiety and depression now and later. (Depression alone is hell and costs our country biliions already–we don’t need to create more. I imagine Trump and Sessions are absolutely clueless about depression. I hope you will pressure them to assure the country they will pay for all therapy needed, and that will be a lot.) Thanks again for your efforts–I’m proud of you all!

  26. Thank you for this writing and push for the right end
    result… Many here are expressing my views, but want to
    say this has hit the lowest moral conditions in my life time. I can only hope this will turn around, and these families can be supported.

  27. Excellent! Thank you so much for standing up to this ignorant, incompetent administration! Never have I been so glad to live in Massachusetts as over the time that President Trump has been in charge of the federal government!

  28. Thank you for this. Now that the family separation EO has been signed, please keep the pressure up on the Administration to reunite the children with their parents, and to provide appropriate housing with the least restriction possible for these families, as it is likely they will still be detained. The Obama Administration found that family detention was not a successful approach; I wish I thought our current Administration would learn from this.

  29. With the president’s “reversal” of the policy this week, we need to make sure that the kids who’ve been targeted by MS13 and other gangs in their homelands aren’t themselves thrown in jail for indefinite periods.

    The president has also referred to MS13 by name in his comments on the policy. My partner is a school teacher; 2 years ago he was at a school whose student body had recently grown to nearly 50% kids from Guatemala. On the front lines, he could see that MS13 is not infiltrating – the gangs are already well-established and are seeking to recruit on each side of the border, but they’ve already got a lucrative thing going and their members see no need to cross the border themselves.

    If the USA has any interest in fixing this problem, go after it at its roots: the gangs on their home turf in Central America, where local governments have been toppled by the gangs.

  30. Thank you for your thoughtful and articulate refutation of the racist, xenophobic, and misogynist malice perpetrated in the name of our nation. I’m so glad this letter was written and sent. Yet, for every well-chosen word and point compellingly made, there is an utter absence of basic contextual alignment with the people who are addressed at the top of the list. Even beyond their abhorrent, deceitful motivation and behavior, we are not even using a common language.

  31. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Kidnapping, Hostage-Taking and Ransom Demands

    In addition to the suffering of the children and their parents, who knows what this scheme is costing and will cost the taxpayers for the thoughtlessness and lack of caring of these evildoers, for the separate detention and no plan in place for reuniting families? And one must question: how good was the recordkeeping, if any?

    One of the most shocking things I learned of this week was the fact of infants being interrogated in court, without representation.

    Will there be any immunity for the plotters when they get sued for damages?
    Mr. Trump may not understand the law, but Jeff Sessions and Steven Miller should.

    This is not the country I grew up in!

  32. Thank you for attempting to correct this blunder. When will you write the FAA or and our MA government to demand that they stop waking us at night whenever they please with the noise of the logan airport planes? Is in it so un-American to deprive adults and children of their sleep?

  33. Thank you. How can we join together to reunite these families, and second, have the perpetrators (Sessions, etc) pay for this out of their own pockets? This policy was contrary to what the United States citizens asked for, and I suspect someone made a profit on this policy.

    Follow the money

  34. My understanding is that during the Obama years it was proposed, in concordance with the United Nations, that refugee centers be established in the Central America nations (Guatemala and Honduras in particular) to serve refugees fleeing from failed leadership in these countries. Why not carry out this proposal in cooperation with the UN and move (intact) families that have crossed our border illegally to the lands they have come from?

  35. Wonderful letter! Thank you so much for taking the initiative to speak in our names against this horrendous policy (and behavior).

    It is important to remain alert and understand WHY so many people will even risk that – being arrested, having their kids taken away from them, and loosing them to a crazy (and perverse) bureaucracy. Even if the Trump administration conceives even a more inhumane policy, it will not stop people fleeing gang violence and starvation from trying to survive. They will continue to come until we look at (and change!) the role the US plays in their despairing circumstances.

    Sincerely,

    Maria G. Rodrigues

  36. Thank you, Senators, for this clear and forceful statement reflecting our outrage about this terrible action of our federal government and president. We are with you all the way.

    1. This policy has been in effect for 22 years why the outrage now ? President Trump does what is best for everyone. As he has done with the executive order, this is ridiculous how they try to blame him for the failed policies because congress can’t agree !

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