Our immigration system needs a reset. This is how we should do it.
August 26, 2019
Like you, I have been deeply troubled by what I consider to be anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration. Just this week, we saw their latest initiative to inflict misery on refugee families seeking new opportunity across the border. This rule would reverse a court-mandate that limits the amount of time the government can hold families in detention facilities. In my opinion, this is shameful.
I recently returned from a trip to inspect the conditions on the southern border and speak with people in the United States and Mexico who are directly impacted by this administration’s policies. I visited a section of the border in El Paso, Texas that has seen a 619% annual increase in apprehensions of unaccompanied children, families, and individuals. There were El Paso migrant processing centers where “some of the detainees were held in standing-room-only conditions for days or weeks.” Despite recommendations to immediately alleviate the overcrowding, I witnessed many people in conditions that can only be described as inhumane.
I am fighting for a more just and humane immigration system but it is clear that ICE, and the entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are unable to administer such a system. That is why I believe that the DHS should be abolished.
I voted against the creation of DHS in 2002 and have seen the agency struggle with a clear directive ever since. We can return the individual functions of each DHS agency to another federal department and restore dignity and accountability to our immigration system. I also believe that the United States shouldn’t criminalize migration, which is why I am working to introduce legislation that decriminalizes unauthorized entry into the United States.
This year, I helped pass the Dream and Promise Act to provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of DREAMers and Temporary Protected Status holders who are caught in limbo at the hands of this administration. I also helped pass legislation to require humanitarian standards along the border. But my work can’t stop there. I am working to protect asylum seekers by ending the “Remain in Mexico” and metering policies that create unsafe conditions and limits on asylum claims. And I am fighting to end the needless, and sometimes permanent, separation of children from their families.
Together, we can move past this dark period in American history and fulfill the promise of liberty and justice for all.