Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein lashed out Tuesday at what she called the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute parents for illegal entry at the Southern border “as a way to separate them from their children.”

“It’s downright cruel to intentionally separate children from their parents as a way to punish immigrants, especially those seeking asylum. This policy betrays our values. We can’t lead the world on issues of human rights if we’re taking babies away from their mothers,” she said in a statement.

Under a policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a West Coast visit this week, families who seek asylum at official U.S. border crossings will be allowed to remain together as they undertake the process. But those who cross illegally will be charged with a crime, and children in those families will be sent to shelters.

“There’s absolutely no need for this spiteful policy.” Feinstein said. “Unauthorized border crossings are at the lowest levels ever recorded — one-third of what they were 20 years ago. The goal of this policy is to inflict pain and suffering on people who have already put their lives at risk. We’re better than this.”

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