By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper says the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border is un-American.

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He issued an executive order on Monday condemning the policy and barring the use of any state resources to help the federal government carry it out.

But, some Coloradans are demanding the state take a stronger stand. Several dozen people rallied outside the governor’s office and demanded he not only denounce the policy, but declare Colorado a sanctuary state.

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“We are seeing crimes against humanity in the 21st century!” said Rep. Joe Salazar, a Democratic candidate for attorney general. Salazar and other demonstrators pointed to fenced-in camps and warehouses along the border, saying it’s like Nazi Germany.

“Never again! Never forget!” they chanted.

Hickenlooper called the policy abuse.

John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

“We are very clear that this is not something that is acceptable. The dividing of families has to stop immediately,” he said.

Manuel Padilla (credit: CBS)

Border Patrol Chief Manuel Padilla defended the policy, saying it’s meant to stop criminals from using children as pawns to get into the country illegally.

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“If a United States citizen violates the law and that person is accompanied by his or her children and they’re going through a judicial process, the children are separated from their parent because the children are not going through that process,” Padilla said.

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But Christina Melgar from El Salvador says she and her two children are just trying to escape violence.

“I just came to this country to protect my children and to do something good, not to do anything bad.”

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The governor stopped short of declaring Colorado a sanctuary state, but said it is a safe and welcoming place for everyone, regardless of their immigration status.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner also spoke out. He tweeted “Children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents and that is exactly what’s happening right now. I was one of only two Republican senators who voted for every single immigration reform measure that the Senate voted on earlier this year, and it is time we find a solution to the problems at the border.”

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet also issued a statement saying, “The increasing number of children being ripped away from their parents is sickening. Every member of Congress must stand up for these children by demanding that the administration end its policy now.”

Bennet sponsored the “Keeping Families Together Act” to end family separation.

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Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.