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WASHINGTON -- It's immoral for hard-hearted officials to separate children from their parents, Catholic Bishop Anthony B. Taylor said Tuesday.

Arkansans should urge members of the state's congressional delegation to oppose the policy, he added.

"This latest action of our government in separating children from their parents shows us clearly the depths of the depravity that sets in when year after year we deny people their basic human rights -- in this case, the right to immigrate when desperate circumstances so require," the bishop said in a written statement.

Taylor, who has led the Diocese of Little Rock since 2008, said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must "come up with an alternate humane solution."

"People fleeing intolerable situations should be welcomed with open arms and a generous heart. Instead the heart of many Americans has hardened so thoroughly that we would even separate innocent children from parents who have made great sacrifices in an attempt to secure for them a better life -- people in many ways no different from our own immigrant ancestors!" Taylor wrote.

His concerns are shared by at least some members of the state's congressional delegation, including U.S. Sen. John Boozman.

The lawmaker from Rogers and at least a dozen other Republicans released a letter Tuesday urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to suspend the administration's "zero tolerance" policy while Congress works on crafting an alternative.

"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," Boozman and the others wrote.

"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."

In the House, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, a Republican from Hot Springs, also called for a change in policy.

"Our customs and immigration laws must be enforced with the humane and ethical principles that make our country strong. Children should not be used as pawns under any circumstance," he said in a written statement. "I urge enforcement officials to utilize family detention facilities where appropriate and only separate children from their families when there is clear and eminent danger to the child if they remain with the adults who transported them across the border. This is another example that highlights the importance of border security and preventing illegal crossings."

In an interview, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack said he doesn't like to see parents separated from their children. "It breaks my heart," he said.

[U.S. immigration: Data visualization of selected immigration statistics, U.S. border map]

But the family divisions are occurring because lawmakers have failed to pass "reasonable and rational" immigration legislation, the Republican from Rogers said. "Congress just continues to look the other way and as a result of that it manifests itself in some very horrific ways. And we're seeing one of those unfold on the border today."

State Rep. Clarke Tucker, a Little Rock Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. French Hill in the state's 2nd Congressional District said separating children from their parents is "reprehensible.

"We are needlessly inflicting tragic and lifelong damage to these families, and we are severely jeopardizing our role as a leader of hope and freedom in the world," he said in a written statement.

Hill, a Republican from Little Rock, told KUAR he would like to see a "more humane" approach.

Metro on 06/20/2018

Photo by Thomas Metthe
Catholic Bishop Anthony B. Taylor

Print Headline: End policy, state bishop, Congress members urge

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  • TimberTopper
    June 20, 2018 at 5:31 a.m.

    Trump and his AG are the culprits on this.

  • RBear
    June 20, 2018 at 6:10 a.m.

    The policy is wrong and should end now. Trump is using this shift in policy to gain leverage with Congress for wall funding. He tried it with Dreamers and it failed to produce what he wanted. Now, he's using small children and families to extort the money. What's even more pathetic is watching all his little freaks coming up with all sorts of lies and false hypotheticals to defend him in this policy shift. They are following him down the morally bankrupt path.
    One of the absolute worst was Pack using the Nielsen line that this was like summer camp for the kids. Sorry, but a detention center with what amounts to a cage sleeping on the floor is not summer camp. Add to that the fact that kids are becoming what could amount to permanent separation due to the lack of organization or a plan for how to deal with this policy shift.
    This is Trump's Katrina.

  • RBear
    June 20, 2018 at 6:53 a.m.

    Along with this we hear the infamous praise from Trump of Nielsen that sounds so familiar with Katrina. “Browney, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

  • teherman
    June 20, 2018 at 7:50 a.m.

    So... It's wrong to take children out of the home of a pedophile?

  • titleist10
    June 20, 2018 at 7:59 a.m.

    Tell them to quit trying to enter the country illegally and they want be separated from their children-if a single mom robs a liquor store shouldn’t she be sent to prison-these people are breaking the law and tax payers have to support them

  • ObieOne
    June 20, 2018 at 8:02 a.m.

    The Liberal trolls are showing their ignorance again.
    Next Headlines... “New Bank Robbery Method Successful. Criminals now wear a front and back Baby Pack with child and calmly enter bank with gun and clean out the cash with no fear of being shot at and a Stand Down to police on any thought of chasing the robber after getting away in his vehicle with new liberal policy “Kids First” to protect them from accident”. It’s a new day in America.

  • TimberTopper
    June 20, 2018 at 8:03 a.m.

    teherman, you are way out there this morning. Is comprehension a daily problem for you?

  • Popsmith
    June 20, 2018 at 8:27 a.m.

    Idiots! It's immoral to break the law.

  • BoudinMan
    June 20, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.

    It is truly amazing to learn and read of the thought processes some people twist themselves into to support evil.

  • 23cal
    June 20, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

    titleist says "Tell them to quit trying to enter the country illegally and they want be separated from their children'
    Makes about as much sense as "Tell them to quit trying to enter the country illegally and they won't be gassed and cremated in ovens."
    Really, if you're willing to do permanent damage to children and unnecessarily separate families, I don't see any reason why you won't use the same excuses for that travesty to justify any other travesty. If your moral compass is so putrefied that you can't discern it to be wrong to cage children and separate families unnecessarily just to promote a xenophobic political agenda, you're beyond the reach of sanity and morality.