(CNN) — Several governors across the country are canceling the deployment of their National Guard troops near the US-Mexico border in response to the Trump’s administration practice of separating immigrant families.
And, in a symbolic gesture, governors who have not yet sent troops to the border are pledging to withhold resources.
President Donald Trump signed a memorandum to send National Guard troops to secure the US-Mexico border in April after hearing of a migrant caravan making its way through Mexico.
While US law limits what troops can do in the border region, they have contributed to at least 1,600 apprehensions, a Customs and Border Protection official told CNN last month.
Here’s a look at what some state officials say they plan to do:
Pulling back troops
Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, recalled four soldiers and one helicopter, saying the state would be “ready to return and contribute to the real work of keeping our nation safe” when the enforcement of the zero-tolerance policy ends.
“When Virginia deployed these resources to the border, we expected that they would play a role in preventing criminals, drug runners and other threats to our security from crossing into the United States — not supporting a policy of arresting families and separating children from their parents,” Northam said in a statement.
Four crew members and one helicopter were ordered to immediately leave New Mexico and no more resources will be deployed to the region at the moment, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
“Washington has failed again & again to deliver needed immigration reform – Congress and the administration must step up and work together to fix our broken system. Immigration enforcement efforts should focus on criminals, not separating innocent children from their families,” tweeted Logan, a Republican.
RELATED: Young Children Held in ‘Tender Age’ Facilities, No Clear Plan From Administration on Reuniting Families
Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered that three soldiers working in the border region return to North Carolina, CNN affiliate WTVD reported.
“The cruel policy of tearing children away from their parents requires a strong response,” Cooper, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Won’t be sending troops
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Monday limiting the use of state resources “to separate children from parents or legal guardians on sole ground of immigration status.”
Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said he recognizes the importance of “maintaining safety at our international borders” but intentionally separating families is “cruel and un-American,” he wrote.
The governor said it’s “deeply troubling” that the US government “would participate in such inhumane actions.”
Gov. John Carney, also a Democrat, refused to send his state’s soldiers to the southwest border when he was asked to on Tuesday.
“Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t hesitate to answer the call. But given what we know about the policies currently in effect at the border, I can’t in good conscience send Delawareans to help with that mission,” he said in a statement.
“If President Trump revokes the current inhumane policy of separating children from their parents, Delaware will be first in line to assist our sister states in securing the border,” he added. “I served in Congress, and I watched for six years as that body failed to pass a comprehensive immigration policy that would secure our borders in a way that upholds the values of this great country. Congress and the President need to step up and fix the mess that our immigration system has become.”
Gov. Charlie Baker directed the state National Guard not to send any assets or personnel to the US-Mexico border because of the Trump administration’s “inhumane treatment” of children, communications director Lizzy Guyton said in a statement.
Baker, a moderate Republican in a largely Democratic state, said the practice is “cruel and inhumane.”
“We told the National Guard to hold steady and to not go down to the border, period,” Baker told CNN affiliate WHDH. “We won’t be supporting that initiative unless they change the policy.”
In a statement, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday that he will not send his state’s troops to the border, CNN affiliate WMUR reported.
He also noted that he has not been contacted by federal authorities.
New York state also will not deploy the National Guard to the border, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, citing the treatment of families at the border as a “moral outrage and an affront to the values that built this state and this nation.”
“In the face of this ongoing human tragedy, let me be very clear: New York will not be party to this inhumane treatment of immigrant families,” Cuomo, a Democrat, added in a statement. “We will not deploy National Guard to the border, and we will not be complicit in a political agenda that governs by fear and division.”
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has not been asked yet but she has announced that she would not be sending troops to the border amid the Trump’s administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which she described as “immoral, unjust and un-American.”
“Children should be with their families, not trapped in cages, sobbing and calling out for their parents. The Administration’s immigration policy goes against everything we value as Rhode Islanders, as Americans and as decent people,” she said in a statement.
“The President alone can end family separation. I’m standing with all good-hearted people in our nation and calling on President Trump to end this inhumane policy.”
Gov. Kate Brown had said that if President Trump asks her to dispatch members of her state’s National Guard to the US southern border, she’ll “say no.”
In a set of tweets in April, Brown, a Democrat, said she was “deeply troubled” by Trump’s plan to send members of the US military to the border and implied that the President is doing so as a political distraction.
Sessions Defends Care of Migrant Children
Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserted in an op-ed published late Tuesday that migrant children who are held by the Department of Health and Human Services, including those who are separated from their parents, are “well cared for.”
His op-ed comes amid loud and growing criticism of the Trump administration’s policy of prosecuting those who cross the US border illegally, which results in the separation of families.
“In fact, they get better care than a lot of American kids do. They are provided plenty of food, education in their language, health and dental care, and transported to their destination city — all at taxpayer expense,” Sessions wrote in the USA Today op-ed.
“Separations are temporary and rare,” the attorney general wrote, adding that “the vast majority of children in custody came to this country by themselves.”
Since the Trump administration instituted its “zero-tolerance” policy on immigration this spring, under which anyone caught entering the US illegally is referred for criminal prosecution, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their families. The policy and the resulting separations have been widely criticized by lawmakers, advocacy groups and health experts.
On Monday, the investigative nonprofit ProPublica published wrenching audio from inside one of the facilities. In the recording, children can be heard wailing, sobbing and calling out for their parents. On Tuesday night, The Associated Press reported that children as young as infants were being separated and cared for in “tender care” facilities.
Dr. Colleen Kraft, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN earlier this week that separating children from their parents “is nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse.” The president of the American College of Physicians, Dr. Ana Maria Lopez, said the separations could have persistent detrimental effects.
“The effect of this type of event will follow these children into adulthood and into their entire lives,” she said. “Our federal government is causing a situation that is creating a host of potential health consequences for an entire category of people.”
In his op-ed, Sessions defended the policy and urged Congress to take action to reach a long-term immigration solution, even though President Donald Trump has the ability to unilaterally take action.
“We do not want to separate parents from their children,” he wrote.
“What we want is a safe, lawful system of immigration that would end this question altogether. We want to build a wall to prevent illegal entry. Congress could make that happen quickly — and they should,” Sessions said.
On Tuesday, Trump met with Republicans on Capitol Hill to discuss legislative ways to end the family separations. While some lawmakers emerged from the meeting convinced that Trump had endorsed a compromise measure, others said the President appeared noncommittal.
“It’s always nice to see the President but this didn’t move the ball,” one Republican lawmaker told CNN.
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