Laurie Felker Jones immediately thought of her two kids when she learned about the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
“When I heard about what was happening, it was very easy to look at my children and understand what It’s like when they’re afraid and understand what it’s like to be there for them or when we can’t be there for them for some reason,” she said.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier in May that the Trump administration wanted to crack down on families entering the U.S. illegally using family separation.
“If you are a smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said during a law enforcement conference in Arizona, according to NBC News. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Felker Jones and a crowd of parents, along with some immigration and family policy experts gathered in front of Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s Austin office for a rally against this policy Wednesday morning.
“The thing that can be done today is to stop separating children from their families as a punitive measure for families seeking a better life just as my relatives did down our family tree and many other people are doing today,” she said.
Earlier in the week, according to a spokesperson from Sen. Cornyn’s office, Cornyn told reporters about the need to fix this current situation.
“As we’ve seen with these children who are being brought to the border by their parents, because of a glitch in our laws they cannot be returned to their home country,” he said. “They have to literally be taken into custody here in the United States by Health and Human Services and placed with a sponsor, but it doesn’t have to be a family member. What we’ve seen is this is rife with opportunity for traffickers, for gang recruiters and other activities.”
Cornyn is working with Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, on a bipartisan piece of legislation called the HUMANE Act, which would allow people to bring their case to an immigration judge in a timely fashion, to prevent family separation.
“If they met the requirements, they could come into the country under the terms of those benefits, but if they didn’t, they’d be returned to their home country,” Cornyn said. “There is a way for us to fix this because the status quo is simply unacceptable.”