Evil. Cruel. Immoral. Congress MUST act to end family separation policy.
What is taking place at our southern border shocks the conscience: families torn apart, victims of domestic and gang violence turned away, those fleeing persecution held like criminals.
I heard some of these stories firsthand when I joined Senators Merkley and Wyden and Congresswoman Bonamici on Saturday to meet with detainees being held by ICE at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. (For more about what we learned, watch our press conference on Facebook here.)
As they recounted their experiences, I couldn’t help but think about my grandchildren—four of them under the age of six—and how cruel it would be if they were separated from their parents.
This is a truly shameful moment in our history.
Children should not be treated this way, and those fleeing persecution should be given the chance to prove their case—not treated like criminals.
We need to put an end to this evil.
That’s why I’ve joined Congressman Jerry Nadler to introduce the Keep Families Together Act, legislation to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from separating children from their parents and limit criminal prosecutions for asylum-seekers.
This legislation should be the number one priority of Congress.
To ensure that ALL immigrants are treated with dignity and that families stay united, I’ve also worked with my colleagues to introduce legislation to:
- Allow parents to make calls to arrange for the care of their children when they are detained and to participate in family court proceedings affecting their children, and ensure that parents can coordinate their departures with their children (H.R. 5950, HELP Separated Children Act)
- Ensure that the immigration status of a parent, legal guardian, or relative caregiver is not grounds for disqualification from being a placement for a child (H.R. 5414, Help Separated Families Act of 2018)
- Provide access to counsel for children in immigration removal proceedings (H.R. 2043, Fair Day in Court for Kids Act)
- Direct the Department of Justice to provide funding for nonprofit legal services providers to help immigrants who are lawfully admitted permanent residents, DACA recipients, and refugees (H.R. 858, DREAMers, Immigrants, and Refugees (DIRe) Legal Aid Act)
Ensure ICE officers are following the law during border stops by requiring the rigorous collection of data on their interactions (H.R. 5991, DATA Act)
I don’t believe the actions of this administration are normal. This is not who we are.
In our America, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free are welcomed with open arms, not handcuffs.
We can and should do better.