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