DENVER -- Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on Monday that will prevent state agencies from separating children from their parents solely over immigration status.
The order was signed in response to the "zero tolerance" policy by the federal government that has resulted in children of people who enter America illegally being held in separate detention centers.
“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s policy and practice of separating children from their parents when arriving at the southern border is offensive to our core values as Coloradans and as a country,” Hickenlooper's executive order says.
“The administration announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in the spring of 2018 resulting in family separations. The administration has recently stated that the purpose of the policy is to intimidate immigrants and deter crossings.”
The executive order by Hickenlooper says that "No state agency may deprive any person of services or benefits to which he or she is legally entitled because of a person’s immigration status, except as required by state or federal law."
It also states that "No state agency may use any state resources, including but not limited to moneys, equipment, or personnel, for the purpose of separating any child from his or her parent or legal guardian on the sole ground that such parent or legal guardian is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws."
The order will only apply to cases where children have been separated from their parents based solely on immigration status. It will not apply to cases where children are taken away from their parents for other issues, such as abuse or human trafficking.
Local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are weighing in not only on this latest signing but on the national policy that is separating families at the border.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis:
"As a parent, I’m appalled by the unprecedented human rights abuses that the Trump administration is inflicting on immigrant families and children. As governor, I will ensure that our state opposes these morally bankrupt actions of tearing families apart.
'Governor Hickenlooper’s executive order is a good step forward. Colorado must not be party to horrific policies that terrorize families and needlessly separate parents from their children.”
Republican Rep. Mike Coffman:
"This afternoon, i reached out to Sen. Feinstein's office to let her know i want to help her put a stop to this human rights disaster at the border. If that means introducing her bill in the house, I'd be honored to stand with her.
'If there is a better bill sponsor to get this done, or if there is a better approach from Senator Sasse, I'm open to all reasonable options. Tearing children from the arms of parents and then isolating them alone is antithetical to the America I grew up in, and to the America that I have many times fought to defend. This isn't who we are. My colleagues should mark their words and this moment - history won't remember well those who support the continuation of this policy."
Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner:
"Our immigration system is broken & the separation of children at our southern border shows just how critical it is that Congress pass immigration reform immediately. Children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents, & that’s exactly what is happening right now."
Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette:
“I’ve long protested this heartless, shameful policy and am supporting legislation to reverse it. And using the tools of congressional oversight, I‘ve raised the matter in hearings, letters to the administration and via other means. Now I’ll have a first-hand view in order to do more to bring its reality home.
'A number of leading female members of Congress will visit the scene of this crime against humanity; we will bear witness and bring to light the ways in which the Trump Administration is harming vulnerable families, damaging our nation’s stature and seeking to excuse these outrages in the name of national security.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet:
“The increasing number of children being ripped away from their parents is sickening. Americans of all political stripes have spoken out against this immoral policy. Yet the President and his administration continue to perpetuate falsehoods and blame others for their own cruelty. Their separation policy undermines our most sacred values as Americans, fails to keep our country safer, and causes unnecessary trauma for thousands of children and families. Every member of Congress must stand up for these children by demanding that the administration end its policy now.”