Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he will not send the Massachusetts National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border due to the “cruel and inhumane” decision by the Trump administration to separate children from their parents as families arrive at the border.
“We told the National Guard to hold steady and to not go down to the border —period,” Baker said on Monday. “We won’t be supporting that initiative unless they change the policy.
A helicopter crew had been set to fly down later this month to work with federal officials to help track illegal activity along the border with Mexico.
Democrats have turned up the pressure over the policy, and some Republicans like Baker have now joined the chorus of criticism. Former first lady Laura Bush has called the policy “cruel” and “immoral” while GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine expressed concern about it and a former adviser to Trump questioned using the policy to pressure Democrats on immigration legislation.
“I’m hopeful that with the voices that are coming out at this point and making that case to them, that they will consider alternatives to deal with border security,” Baker said. “Border security is important — no one disputes that — but separating kids from their families is not.”
Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, tweeting: “Why don’t the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world’s worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?” Later, he again blamed Democrats during an event.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refused Monday to apologize for enforcing immigration laws that result in the separation of children from their parents. Speaking at a meeting of the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans Monday, she rejected criticism accusing DHS of inhuman and immoral actions.
Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.
As of Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services has 11,785 minors in its care, a number that jumped by 500 in the past two weeks and that includes “all minors at all shelters and facilities in the unaccompanied alien children program,” a department official told NBC News.
At the current pace, the number of migrant children being held would hit 20,695 by the beginning of August.