Hundreds protest Trump policy that separates immigrant children from parents at border
About 200 Northern Nevadans protested in downtown Reno Tuesday morning against the Trump administration's policy that separates immigrant children from their parents at the border.
Protesters lined the sidewalk outside the Bruce R. Thompson federal building, holding signs with phrases like 'Keep Families Together,' 'Stop Kidnapping Children' and 'Arrest Jeff Sessions.'
A few Reno Police officers and one Department of Homeland Security police officer were on hand just in case the rally escalated, but the late-morning protest remained peaceful.
Protesters were speaking out against a recent policy change by the Trump administration that has resulted in 2,300 children being separated from their parents in the last five weeks.
In April, President Trump implemented a "zero tolerance" policy at the border, requiring the Department of Homeland Security to refer 100 percent of illegal border crossers for prosecution. As the number of criminal prosecutions rose, so too did the number of children rendered "unaccompanied" when their parent or the adult traveling with them was taken into custody.
The change has been condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored the 'Keep Families Together' act, which is co-sponsored by Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. That bill has yet to move forward because it has no Republican support.
Tuesday afternoon, 12 Republican Senators, including Nevada Senator Dean Heller, signed onto a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him to end the family separation practice until Congress can pass a legislative fix.
"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,” wrote the senators. “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 halt implementation of the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally without requiring the forced, inhumane separation of children from their parents."
Here is how top Nevada lawmakers responded to the policy:
“Children should not be taken away from their parents while our broken system sorts out the result. Our immigration system is broken and this highlights what’s wrong with Washington D.C. They need to get it together and pass real reforms to secure our border and address problems like this in the system.” - Adam Laxalt, Nevada Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor
"Instead of standing up for basic human decency, Adam Laxalt is parroting Donald Trump's talking points, blaming Congress for a disgraceful practice put in place by his administration. I am calling on Trump to end this horrible policy immediately and I ask Adam Laxalt to join me in this demand." - Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor
“Senator Heller doesn’t support separating children from their families, and he believes that this issue highlights just how broken our immigration system is and why Congress must act to fix it.” - Republican Senator Dean Heller
“Separating families is not only inhumane, it is against everything we stand for as a country. President Trump should immediately reverse his administration’s new ‘zero tolerance policy’ for migrants at the border. I’ve co-sponsored legislation to stop tearing families apart and protect children’s rights. But let me be clear: this crisis was not caused by Congress. It was caused by President Trump. He only has to say the word in order to stop the internment of thousands of innocent children and release them back to their parents.” - Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
“It’s because of issues just like this that I signed the discharge petition months ago. The fact that 216 Members of the House forced leadership to deal with immigration reform means that we have a head start on the issue and we’re in a position, after 35 years of inaction, to start voting this week.” - Republican Congressman Mark Amodei