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Utah politicians push different ‘solutions’ to end the separation of families at U.S. border

SALT LAKE CITY — Outrage over the separation of families at the U.S./Mexico border continues to spread across the United States, as politicians look for answers.

“The (Trump) administration’s horrible ‘zero tolerance’ policy has unnecessarily separated children from their parents, and I firmly oppose it,” Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, said in a statement Monday. “This is not a partisan issue; it’s an issue of right or wrong.”

Love said she and other House Republicans expect to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss legislation that will tackle Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals children and increased border security.

“You can be assured that I will continue to work toward real solutions that reflect Utah’s values,” she said.

Chris Olson, of Lake Wallenpaupack, Pennsylvania, holds a sign outside Lackawanna College where U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions spoke on immigration policy and law enforcement actions on June 15, 2018. (Butch Comegys/Associated Press)

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, took a defensive approach to the border separation, telling the Deseret News the policy is one that went into effect before President Donald Trump took office.

“But even though that’s the case, many of us are very uncomfortable with it,” Stewart said. “I’ve been saying for a long time that we have to find the answer for it.”

Stewart’s answer: Outfit all prospective adult immigrants with GPS anklets.

“If we allowed the parents of these children to wear an ankle bracelet, that would allow them to stay together as families, but at the same time, we would know where they were,” he said.

ABC reports an official with the Department of Homeland Security told reporters last week that almost 2,000 migrant children were pulled from adults between April 19 and May 31 after they were caught trying to illegally cross the border.

In some cases, photos show the children’s detention centers are made of chain-link fencing. In other situations, national reports show children are housed in old warehouses or stores.

Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, on June 13, 2018. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

“You have families approaching the border. When they are apprehended at the border, we can’t just catch and release them like we were doing before. But the federal courts don’t allow you to keep a child in detention for more than 20 days,” Stewart said. “That’s the complicated fact we are trying to work through.”

Stewart said he is working on support in Washington, D.C., for a bill that would allow for GPS ankle bracelets to replace the detention centers, but said it was too early in the process to gauge reaction.

In a separate phone call with Deseret News, Shireen Ghorbani, a Democratic candidate for Stewart’s House seat, said she supports the incumbent’s idea.

“Keeping families together is my absolute top priority,” she said. “If it is a proposal where we are using different kinds of technology to be able to keep families together, it is definitely a step in the right direction.”

A girl babysits a Mexican-born baby of Haitian descent at a church in Tijuana, Mexico, on May 6, 2018 (Emilio Espejel/Associated Press)

In a statement Monday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also called for immediate action to reunite the children with their parents.

“We are deeply troubled by the aggressive and insensitive treatment of these families. While we recognize the right of all nations to enforce their laws and secure their borders, we encourage our national leaders to take swift action to correct this situation and seek for rational, compassionate solutions,” LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.