U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee calls president's executive order ‘a sham'

 By Bay City News Service

A sham is what Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, called today's executive order by President Donald Trump keeping migrant families together if they enter the U.S. illegally. 

The order reverses part of the president's "zero tolerance" policy that has separated migrant children from their parents. 

"This executive order is a sham," Lee wrote on Twitter. "President Trump is keeping families in jail. Children in jail. All he's done is trade one form of child abuse for another."

Lee sent a letter Tuesday to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres asking the agency to send humanitarian observers to the U.S. to investigate the impacts of separating families on the U.S.-Mexico border.

In her letter, Lee said, "I am appalled by the reports and images from detention facilities in Texas and other states along the border, where more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents by border patrol agents."

Lee wrote, "I urge you to send experts from relevant U.N. agencies to observe conditions in both Department of Homeland Security and Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities both at the border and throughout the more than 17 states around the country that are now housing children who have been 
separated from their families."

Lee said, "As a mother, a grandmother, and as a psychiatric social worker, I am most concerned for the physical and mental well-being of children separated from their parents at their most vulnerable time."

She said, "The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that this practice of family separation 'can cause irreparable harm to lifelong development by disrupting a child's brain architecture.'"

In a statement, Lee said this spring the Trump administration instituted a "zero tolerance" policy for migrants entering the U.S. illegally and asylum seekers and parents have been separated from their children and prosecuted but no current law requires the separation of families.

"We should be opening our arms to those seeking refuge, not slamming the door," Lee tweeted.

The president blamed Congress' failure to act and court orders for the separation of families at the border, which his order said was needed to enforce the law. 

But the order said, "It is also the policy of this administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources."