Washington: Amid a major immigration row in the United States, Indian-origin senator Kamala Harris, who visited a federal detention centre in California and met mothers separated from their children, has alleged that the Trump administration has committed a "crime against humanity".
Harris also demanded the immediate reunification of separated families, raising concern over their detention in a "typical prison setting", after her visit to the Otay Mesa Detention Facility near San Diego in California on Friday.
"The mothers I spoke with who have had their children taken think they're alone," a visibly upset Harris told a crowd of several hundreds outside the detention centre. "We need to remind them and everyone else that they are not alone and that we all stand with them...This is outrageous. This is clearly a crime against humanity that is being committed by the US government, and we have to stop it."
The Democratic senator said separating children from their parents was unacceptable and that these women, who had fled violence in their countries, were being treated by the US government as if they posed the same threat as a member of a transnational gang. "These women do not know for certain where their children are, do not know if and when they will be reunited, and some have not been able to even speak with them over the phone," she said.
Harris alleged that she was not allowed to bring phones or cameras inside. "During my visit, I spoke with mothers who have been separated from their children, some as young as five years old," she said, adding that inside the detention centre, she spoke with three women from El Salvador and Honduras, who were separated from their children at their border. "They're in complete and utter despair."
She said the detainees were being held in a typical prison setting. “This is a prison,” she said.
Political analysts consider Harris a potential 2020 presidential aspirant. She has earlier slammed Trump for his zero-tolerance policy. On Thursday, on the Senate floor, she had urged the Trump administration to end its zero-tolerance policy. "Let's be clear: A society is judged based on how it treats its children," she had said. "A society is judged based on how it treats the least among us. And we will be judged harshly. History will judge us harshly because of what this administration has done."
"From Trump's Muslim ban to the recent human rights abuses being committed by our government along the southern border, this administration has been marked by mistreatment of immigrant and refugee communities. We must stand with them — no one should be left to fight alone." Harris said in a tweet.
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Updated Date: Jun 23, 2018 10:29:35 IST