"Illegal entry" constitutes a Class B misdemeanor - a crime that has a maximum punishment of only six months in jail. Trump officials, so far, have shown no interest in backing away from the "zero tolerance" policy, under which any person caught illegally crossing the border will be prosecuted. Those in criminal proceedings are guaranteed a (now severely overworked) public defender, but those in civil immigration courts are not.
Sessions alleged there was once a "loophole" in the law allowing immigrant parents who crossed the border with their children to "effectively be given immunity from prosecution" - which has been proven false. Trump also eliminated an extremely successful detention alternative program for undocumented people. Marshall said he has empathy for the children who have been separated, and called it "terrible".
President Donald Trump has repeated a false claim the policy is a result of standing immigration law, an excuse the letter sharply rejects and urges Trump to fix. "In fact, requiring US attorneys to bring these misdemeanor cases in every instance detracts from your own stated priority to fight gangs and violent crime by groups such as MS-13". The attorneys say the law does not require the systemic separation of families and that the administration's policy has caused a "traumatic and unsustainable" situation that does not account for each family's specific circumstances.
"No responsible Christian theologian would assert that Romans 13, or any other passage in the Bible, supports the horrific separation of children from parents that we are witnessing at the present time", Spitzer said in an open letter to Sessions dated June 15.
"This policy, devised by the Trump Administration, is wrong, inhumane, and traumatic for thousands of children".
Now, those crossing face criminal prosecution - but as the children are too young to be charged with a crime, children and parents can not be detained together.
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"I hope his pastor can have a good conversation with him and come to a good resolution that helps him reclaim his values that many of us feel he's violated as a Methodist", Wright said, according to the UMC website.
"What we want is a safe, lawful system of immigration that would end this question altogether".
Sessions is a member of Ashland Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama.
Miller is joined by the attorneys general of New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington demanding a change in policy.
White House chief of staff John Kelly said in March that the administration was considering separating children from their parents "to deter more movement" across the border. Kellyanne Conway told Meet the Press that the fault lay at the feet of congress, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Face the Nation that it's because of Jeff Sessions giving the president bad advice, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is actively trying to convince people that the policy doesn't exist at all.