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Opinion

Readers React: Don’t call the asylum seekers whose children were taken away at the border ‘law breakers’

A protester holds a sign outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility, Thursday, June 21, 201
A protester holds a sign outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility in Fabens, Texas, on June 21.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

To the editor: In a letter to the editor, one L.A. Times reader wrote the following:

“Every day since the conception of law, law-breakers have been separated from their children. How and why is this any different?”

This is different because asking for asylum is not breaking the law. It is not the same as trying to cross the border illegally. People have the absolute right under the law to seek asylum; they cannot be considered to be criminals who are to be punished for breaking the law.

People have the legal right to seek asylum at the border, be processed as quickly as possible, and then released until their cases are heard.

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Ellen Borten Scharlin, Encino

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To the editor: Some people ask how detaining migrant children is any different from cases of law-breakers who are separated from their children. When the latter happens, most likely the children will be cared for by the remaining parent or another relative.

Of course, even here parental incarceration is difficult for children, and the separation may be for a longer period. But children are not forcibly taken to detention camps.

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Marian Gasser, La Mirada

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To the editor: Since the conception of laws, only those that commit the most serious crimes have been separated from their families. Those convicted of lesser offenses pay fines, do community service or get probation.

Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor, and so is driving without a license in many states. The next time you leave home without your license, ask yourself if you should be separated from your family.

Claire Chik, Torrance

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