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Statement from NJ Legislative Latino Caucus Chairwoman Senator Nellie Pou on the Trump Administration’s Zero-Tolerance Policy

Senator Nellie Pou, D-Passaic/Bergen, hears testimony during today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on S-1, legislation that would establish marriage equality in New Jersey.  The bill was released from the Committee with a vote of 8-4, along party lines.  The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

These past months, the world has been horrified to witness what has been occurring at our southern border. Immigrant parents trying to enter the United States are being separated from their children. Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents from April through May according to the Department of Homeland Security.

These children are being used as bargaining chips by the Trump administration in its plan to have Congress pay for an ill-advised border wall. Children are not political pawns. If we can agree on anything in these divisive times, it should be that families are sacred. That regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum, we stand for and stand with families.

The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy is inhumane. The president’s executive order which may put an end to this insidious policy offers a small ray of hope. But it is troubling that the images and sounds of children being taken from parents, of tent cities and even of a massive detention center inside a former Walmart did not bring an immediate cry of indignation from the White House.

As the chairwoman of the New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus, I am well aware of the struggles of the Latino community both here in New Jersey and across the nation. I am well aware that the nationalist rhetoric that has been given fake legitimacy in recent years has shouted out the cries for rational and compassionate immigration reform.

We need to shape fair, humane immigration policy that includes giving legal status to DREAMERS and protects the sanctity of families. Whatever we do, though, we can never forget that all immigrants are people who dream of a better life.

What has been happening at our southern border is a painful reminder that as extraordinary as our nation is, we cannot take it and its values for granted.