Gov. Charlie Baker Won't Send National Guard to Border, Citing ‘Cruel and Inhumane' Actions of Trump Administration

Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he will not send the Massachusetts National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border due to the "cruel and inhumane" decision by the Trump administration to separate children from their parents as families arrive at the border.

"We told the National Guard to hold steady and to not go down to the border —period," Baker said on Monday. "We won't be supporting that initiative unless they change the policy.

A helicopter crew had been set to fly down later this month to work with federal officials to help track illegal activity along the border with Mexico.

Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat hoping to unseat Baker in November, said Baker "should have never offered our state's resources to enforce Donald Trump's inhumane immigration policy in the first place."

Democrats have turned up the pressure over the policy, and some Republicans like Baker have now joined the chorus of criticism. Former first lady Laura Bush has called the policy "cruel" and "immoral" while GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine expressed concern about it and a former adviser to Trump questioned using the policy to pressure Democrats on immigration legislation.

"I'm hopeful that with the voices that are coming out at this point and making that case to them, that they will consider alternatives to deal with border security," Baker said. "Border security is important — no one disputes that — but separating kids from their families is not."

Massachusetts Democrats have joined calls to end the practice.

On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy participated in a march in Texas to draw attention to a tent-like shelter to house hundreds of the minors near the Tornillo port of entry in far West Texas. The protest was led by Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Kennedy called the practice of family separation "monstrous," saying all families, and all children, deserve to be treated with dignity and decency. The Democrat said he attempted to visit the facility, but was denied entry.

Hours after returning from the Texas border, Kennedy blasted President Trump for reducing his immigration policy to slogans and tweets and for preventing families from seeking a better life, like his grandparents did generations ago.

"He failed to see the humanity in a 2-year-old baby that is fleeing violence, persecution, instability," Kennedy said.

Kennedy says no one is buying Trump's attempt to blame the crisis on democrats. 

"There's one person in this country that could end this problem now," he said. "That's the president. It's a phone call."

Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, tweeting: "Why don't the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world's worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?" Later, he again blamed Democrats during an event.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refused Monday to apologize for enforcing immigration laws that result in the separation of children from their parents. Speaking at a meeting of the National Sheriffs' Association in New Orleans Monday, she rejected criticism accusing DHS of inhuman and immoral actions.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

As of Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services has 11,785 minors in its care, a number that jumped by 500 in the past two weeks and that includes “all minors at all shelters and facilities in the unaccompanied alien children program,” a department official told NBC News.

At the current pace, the number of migrant children being held would hit 20,695 by the beginning of August.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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