Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) told reporters on Monday he would not be sending National Guard members to help stop illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, calling the "no tolerance" enforcement of immigration policy "cruel and inhumane," the Boston Globe reported.
Baker denounced the administration's decision to prosecute all illegal border crossers, which has resulted in the separation of children from families per federal law and longstanding Department of Homeland Security policy.
The governor's reversal came on the heels of outrage over widespread reports of children being "ripped from their mothers' arms" after being caught illegally crossing the border.
“It's cruel and inhumane, and I told the National Guard to hold steady and not go down to the border — period,'' Baker said. “So we won't be supporting that initiative unless they change their policy."
The governor had agreed earlier this month to send a UH-72 Lakota helicopter and two military analysts to pilot the craft along the southwestern border by month's end. Baker had responded to President Donald Trump's request for assistance in tracking illegal border activity, State House News Service reported.
"They're not going to the border," Baker said.
Is separating families a new Trump policy?
No. Many news outlets have reported that separating families is a "new Trump policy" and that is not correct.
It's a longstanding law that minors found to be in the country illegally or unaccompanied by their legal guardian would be taken into DHS custody.
Previous administrations have not always enforced the law unless the parents were guilty of some other crime (like drug trafficking), or had a criminal record in the United States, or had been caught attempting to cross the border illegally multiple times.
So, what changed?
Enforcement of the law.
Now, as the White House announced earlier this year, everyone who's caught illegally in the U.S. will be charged, which means families will be separated.
What does Homeland Security say?
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended officials enforcement of the law on Monday during a speech at the National Sheriff's Association meeting in New Orleans, according to Politico.
"We have to do our job. We will not apologize for doing our job," she said. "This administration has a simple message — If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you," Nielsen said.
"We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does for doing the job that the American people expect us to do," she continued. "Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards."
Nielsen also called on Congress to make the necessary changes to immigration laws.
"We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress, and we are doing all that we can in the executive branch to protect our communities. It is now time that Congress act to fix our broken immigration system," Nielsen said. "Surely, it is the beginning of the unraveling of democracy when the body who makes the laws, rather than changing them, asks the body who enforces the laws not to enforce the laws. That cannot be the answer."
What did the White House say?
In its daily email on Monday, the White House emphasized the spike in illegal border crossings and the need for more security along the border, according to WCVB-TV.
"Illegal immigration along our Southwest border surged 230 percent in April compared to last year, according to the Department of Homeland Security," the White House wrote Monday in its daily email. "This statistic reveals the lack of an orderly and fair process to manage the escalating flow of illegal immigrants. That flawed system creates both a humanitarian and a national security crisis at our border."