Press Releases

Washington, DC— U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) released the following statement in support of efforts to eliminate separating families detained at the border after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the practice of separating migrant families who try to enter the country illegally:

“Our immigration system is broken and in desperate need of repair. Nowhere is that more apparent than at our porous southwest border. I have been working for years with my colleagues to address this crisis and institute real security measures—including pushing for an end to the flawed ‘catch and release’ practices—at our southwest border.

That is why I appreciate President Trump’s push for a strict adherence to our immigration laws. However, I disagree with the decision to separate families detained after attempting to cross the border illegally.

We can strictly enforce our immigration laws, end ‘catch and release’ practices and thus secure our borders without breaking families up. That is why I joined with a number of my Republican colleagues earlier this week to express this view to Attorney General Sessions and request the administration end this practice. It is also why I have joined with Sen. Cotton and some of our colleagues to help introduce legislation to keep families together at residential centers pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings.”

BACKGROUND: Today, Boozman cosponsored and helped introduce the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act. Among other things, this legislation addresses the treatment of accompanied minors and families at the border by requiring the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together at residential centers pending the outcome of their civil or criminal immigration proceeding.

Yesterday, Boozman joined a group of his colleagues, led by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), to call on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to halt the practice of separating families who have illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

The letter was also signed by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Dean Heller (R-NV), Cory Gardner (R-CO), James Lankford (R-OK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

Full text of the letter below:

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

Like millions of Americans, we have read with increasing alarm reports of children being separated from their parents at the southern border. Although enforcing our immigration laws is an essential responsibility of the federal government, it must be done in a way that is consistent with our values and ordinary human decency.   

The current family separation crisis has multiple contributing causes, including court decisions that require release rather than detention of children but not parents who enter our country illegally. But the immediate cause of the crisis is your Department’s recent institution of a “zero tolerance” policy under which all adults who enter the United States illegally are referred for prosecution, regardless of whether they are accompanied by minor children.    

We support the administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents. We therefore ask you to work with the relevant Administration officials to stop the separation of families pursuant to the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally. We believe a reasonable path forward can be found that accommodates the need to enforce our laws while holding true to other, equally essential values