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Local legislators oppose family separations

Local legislators oppose family separations

Gov. Cuomo says state will sue over policy

CAPITAL REGION -- The Capital Region's Republican members of Congress are criticizing the Trump administration's controversial family separation policy and planning support legislation to restrict the practice.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that, with some children being held in New York state, the state plans to sue the federal government to end the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the southern border.

"There's been a lot of talk about the morality of this practice, but we also believe this practice is illegal," Cuomo said during a conference call.

In Washington, U.S. Reps. Elise Stefanik and John Faso both said they will support a "compromise" immigration bill released last week, which, among other provisions, would end the family separation policy.

Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who represented the North Country's 21st Congressional District, called the separation of parents from their children at the southern border "an appalling result of our country's broken immigration system."

U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, who represents the 19th Congressional District, also said the policy needs to end.

"This is a humanitarian issue, and the policy of separating children from their parents is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately," Faso said.

Both legislators said they support Republican-brokered "compromise" legislation that would include a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million young immigrants who are in the country illegally -- those often referred to as "Dreamers." The plan also includes $25 billion for construction of President Donald Trump's signature-initiative border wall, and a provision to keep families together as long as they are in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security.

"(Stefanik) is pleased that it would protect the DACA-eligible population, prevent family separation at the border, and provide funding for border security," Stefanik spokesman Tom Flanagin said. "She would also support stand-alone legislation to address family separation at our border."

One of Stefanik's potential Democratic opponents in November, Emily Martz, was at the Texas border on Tuesday to highlight the issue ahead of Tuesday's primary, in which she is one of five Democrats seeking to take on Stefanik.

Faso, who also faces a large field of potential Democratic challengers, called for quick congressional action on the compromise bill.

"This legislation would be the most significant reform in our broken immigration system in many decades, and it represents a good-faith compromise that will forever put an end to this disruptive practice," Faso said in a prepared statement.

Washington Democrats, however, said they won't support the bill because it puts new limits on the number of immigrants allowed into the country legally each year, despite its support from "moderate" Republicans. They have been virtually unanimous in condemning the Trump policy.

"House mods will lose all credibility if they accept this sham of a bill; it's extreme and drastically cuts immigration in ways unacceptable to the Senate and American people," Sen. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote on Twitter. "It holds "" and kids separated from parents hostage to cut legal immigration and enact the hard right’s agenda."

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said the policy of separating children from their parents at the border "is inhumane, un-American and needs to stop."

Tonko is supporting a Democrat-authored House Resolution condemning separation of children from their parents at the border, and is a co-sponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit DHS from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary cases.

"These are not the actions of a great nation, nor of a people who believe in strength of family," Tonko wrote Friday on Facebook.

Cuomo, in announcing plans to file the lawsuit, also sent an open letter criticizing the policy to Vice-President Mike Pence, who visited Syracuse and Auburn on Tuesday.

"Your policy of ripping children from their parents is a moral outrage and an assault on the values that built this state and this nation," Cuomo wrote in that letter.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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