|Berkshire Mayors Call for Action on Border Separation of Families|
|Staff Reports, |
03:46PM / Tuesday, June 19, 2018
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The mayors of Pittsfield and North Adams are adding their voices to calls to rescind a "zero-tolerance" policy decision by the U.S. Department of Justice that has resulted in the separation of children from families attempting to cross the border illegally or requesting asylum.
"As the mayors of the cities of Pittsfield and North Adams in Western Massachusetts, we write to express our shared opposition to the Trump administration's policy of separating children from parents at the U.S. border. We stand with civic, community, and spiritual leaders across the nation in decrying a policy that has evoked unnecessary fear and confusion," write Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer and North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard.
"We cannot remain silent in the face of this atrocious situation. As leaders of the two cities in Berkshire County, we firmly believe that our communities are strongest when we model our highest ideals and most cherished values."
The joint communique to U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal asks them to "support legislation that will bring a swift end to this inhumane practice."
The policy was enacted in April
to vigorously prosecute "attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien," resulting in the removal of some 2,000 children from their parents or adult family members in April and May, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Previously, the priority had been focused on those suspected of felonies or gang affiliation; families had often been detained together or released for future processing.
How these families are being separated and how the government is caring for the affected children has caused an outcry from numerous quarters. Four former first ladies have spoken out against the practice, including Laura Bush, who wrote an opinion piece
in The Washington Post.
Gov. Charlie Baker has refused to allow the Massachusetts National Guard to work along the border with Mexican because of the "inhumane treatment of children
." The Guard was going to send a helicopter and two analysts. Since then, the governors of Maryland and North Carolina have followed suit.
Markey has asked the Government Accountability Office to determine if the policy for "zero tolerance" is subject to a congressional vote of disapproval. His letter can be found here.
"Beyond the psychological and emotional trauma that comes with being separated from one's parents, children are subjected to additional indignities. Media reports have presented us with disturbing images of children living in prison-like conditions, sleeping in cage-like rooms, and only being allowed to go outside for two hours at a time each day," the mayors wrote. "During their incarceration, these children have no contact with their parents or their families. This is unacceptable."
Joint Letter of Opposition to Detention Policy by iBerkshires.com on Scribd