Yoder calls on Attorney General to end policy of separating families at the border

Rep. Kevin Yoder.

Days after a bipartisan group of elected officials from the Kansas 3rd Congressional District signed onto a letter asking him to use his authority on a powerful Homeland Security committee to intervene, Rep. Kevin Yoder has sent a formal request to U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions to halt the policy of separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Though he had initially refrained from saying the policy must come to an end, Yoder on Monday issued a forceful statement condemning the practice.

“As the son of a social worker, I know the human trauma that comes with children being separated from their parents,” Yoder said in a statement. “It takes a lasting, and sometimes even irreversible toll on the child’s well being. That’s why I’m demanding that Attorney General Sessions halt the practice of family separation at the border immediately as Congress works toward legislative solutions.”

The group that signed the letter asking Yoder to use his position as the chair of Homeland Security Appropriations to influence the situation was made up of elected city, county and statehouse officials, including several prominent local Republicans.

The full text of Yoder’s letter to Sessions is below:

Attorney General Sessions,

Separating children from their families at the border is a policy many of my constituents and the American people in both political parties oppose. As Congress pursues legislation to address this issue this week, an interim solution is needed. I ask that you take immediate action to end the practice of separating children from families at the border.

As we know, there is an appropriate way to come to the United States and seek asylum that does not involve crossing the border illegally. Families who enter the border at a port of entry have their paperwork administered and are allowed to stay together as their case is adjudicated. Yet, many individuals continue to cross our border illegally, and addressing that reality is an important charge for your office.

However, the remedy of immediately removing children from their parents is too harsh a penalty, especially given the dangerous circumstances some of these families are fleeing. In these circumstances, and as long as a unified family would not present any immediate danger to the children, separating families should not occur. It is my understanding the Administration is using this practice to deter further illegal entry.

We can and we should protect our borders, but we must do it in a way that is humane and reasonable. I recently visited the Rio Grande Valley and saw firsthand the need to step up enforcement to protect against the flow of drugs and human trafficking at the border. But separating children from their parents should not be used as a deterrent.

The House of Representatives is poised to act on the most wide-ranging immigration and border security legislation in more than a decade. You need the ability to enforce federal immigration law while keeping families together. We stand ready to make the appropriate and necessary changes to the law – at the President’s own request – to give you that ability. We also stand ready to provide needed resources to shelter these families together as their cases are adjudicated.

I appeal to you, as a Congressman but also as a father of young children, and I offer my partnership in finding solutions. I ask that all families receive just treatment under the law. I would appreciate a response to this letter and any further input your office would provide on a path forward. Thank you for your service to the United States of America.