June 20, 2018

House Democrats, Immigration Advocates Demand the Trump Administration End Family Separation

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, House Democrats joined immigration advocates and children to demand that the Trump administration immediately end their inhumane policy of separate families separating families at the border. Moments before the press conference, House Democrats took over the House of Representatives floor to condemn this cruel policy.

“The Trump administration’s inhumane policy of separating children from their mothers and fathers is a blemish on our government and the values Americans hold dear. President Trump can and must end this horrific policy,” said Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY). “America must be on the side of children and families. American must remain a safe haven for those seeking safety and refuge. I’m proud to join my colleagues in defense of our country’s values and call for this sickening practice is put to an end.”

“Taking children from their parents has touched a cord and is pulling on the hearts of the American people in a way I have not seen previously on immigration matters in the past,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL).“Americans rightly see in the children the faces of their own children and have the natural instinct to want to protect them. I am proud that so many of my Democratic colleagues and fellow countrymen are answering the call by standing up to President Trump on this great injustice.”

“It is clear that this administration has no compassion or capacity to respect the dignity and worth of every human being,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). “Time and time again, this administration fails to show true leadership by creating unnecessary, preventable crises.  The entire world is watching and disgusted by these actions.  To separate parents from children, to have no plan for reunification, to hold innocent little babies in cages, tent cities, and private prisons is a shame, a disgrace, and an outrage.”

“What’s happening at our border is tantamount to child abuse – child abuse that I saw with my own eyes just two days ago when I visited the border,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Chair of the Asian Pacific American Caucus. “There, I saw the detention facilities and spoke with the young boys held there. And I spoke with the mental health counselors who reported the children feeling lost and abandoned. But they weren’t abandoned. Their parents were taken away by Donald Trump. And it could all end in a minute with one phone call from the president. But instead, he is using these children to extort his own xenophobic demands.”

“As a mom and basically as a human being with compassion, my heart aches to hear the sounds of children in detention centers crying for their parents,” said Vice Chair Linda Sánchez (D-CA). “I don’t know anybody who has a heart or any compassion who cannot be moved by the trauma these children are experiencing. President Trump could end this today with one phone call to the attorney general. The president has the power to stop it and he refuses to because quite frankly he just doesn’t care about helping people fleeing threats of murder and violence. House Democrats will continue to stand up and fight against this atrocious policy that has no place in a country as great as the United States of America.

“It is our responsibility as legislators and voters and people of conscious to speak out,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). “The Trump Administration’s so-called “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents is immoral, cruel, and abusive to children. We not only as Americans, but as human beings, need to rally together and apply pressure on President Trump to change this policy without delay.”

“Immigrants contribute to our country in ways large and small, seen and unseen. Today’s migrants follow in the footsteps of centuries of individuals coming to our land to contribute to the vibrancy of our society and in the process, improve the lives and outlook of those who follow,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX). “We should welcome them and ensure that they too can achieve their American Dream. When I visited the border this past weekend, what I witnessed was horrific.  This is not the America I know and love and the Trump Administration must cease and desist this inhumane and cruel policy.”

“The enforcement of the so-called “zero-tolerance” family separation policy is inhumane to all, but especially those seeking asylum from persecution in their homelands,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). “It’s scarring thousands of people for life and permanently altering the emotional — and possibly intellectual — futures of the very young. We must reunite these children with their parents and end this horrendous policy.”

“My heart breaks for the detained families. These families have come to the United States seeking safe harbor, many after enduring unimaginable horrors. Instead of offering a refuge, our government is ripping children from their parents’ arms and separating families for indefinite periods,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). “As a psychiatric social worker, I’m deeply concerned for lasting impact this could have on innocent children. President Trump needs to end these human rights abuses and stop holding these kids hostage.”

“What do you call a country that institutionalizes child abuse? Tragically today you call that country the United States of America,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). “I have heard the screams of babies calling out for their parents, I have heard the accounts of children being ripped from their nursing mothers’ breasts and I cannot stand it. This is not our America. For the sake of our children and for the sake of our country’s soul, President Trump must end this cruelty immediately.”

“The Trump Administration’s reprehensible actions of ‘zero-tolerance’ and family separation at the border will go down in history as one of the cruelest actions undertaken by our government in recent memory,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).“Policies that terrorize children and punish vulnerable asylum seekers fleeing unimaginable violence have no place in our immigration policy. I demand that Trump end this reprehensible policy and begin the process of reuniting the families that he unnecessarily destroyed.”

“The Trump Administration’s family separation policy is antithetical to our values and betrays the lessons taught by our history,” said Rep. Al Green (D-TX).“Furthermore, the use of this reprehensible strategy as a bargaining chip to build a wall along the border hearkens back to the darkest parts of America’s past. If the President truly did not want to separate innocent children from their parents at the border as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated, he wouldn’t. Family separation should not be used as a scare tactic into building this wall and pushing Trump’s true immigration agenda.”

“The Trump Administration and Republicans have continued to perpetrate their evil act against immigrants in America, attacking our families, separating our children, and detaining our mothers and fathers,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY).“We must be strong and continue to stand united as an affront to such injustice and inhumanity. Family separation is not the law, and the Trump Administration could easily reverse this policy today. No matter your political affiliation or opinion about immigration policy, we can all agree that families must remain intact and our efforts should protect children, and not purposely harm them. This isn’t about politics, it’s about decency and humanity.”

“These are days of shame for our country, as the zero-tolerance policy of separating children from their parents turns America into a rogue state and an international pariah,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “It is a policy that is characteristic of authoritarianism, not the greatest liberal democracy in the world. President Trump created this dreadful policy out of thin air. He made it appear. He can make it disappear today with the stroke of a pen and a phone call. That’s what he needs to do.”

“For weeks, the Trump administration has misled the American people and failed to explain the reasoning behind their cruel practice of separating immigrant children from their parents,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA). “A recent visit to immigration detention facilities in San Diego reaffirmed my belief that this abhorrent policy is nothing more than a means to punish families who had the audacity to seek a better life — and deter those who still dream of doing so. I proudly stand with my constituents and my Democratic colleagues in demanding the administration end this government sanctioned child abuse immediately.”

“Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy of separating children and families means zero humanity and compassion,” said Toni Van Pelt, President of the National Organization for Women. “NOW calls on Congress to exercise its moral and civic duty to defend, protect and humanize immigrant families, especially women and children. Trump’s policy is racist, unlawful and cruel.”

“The Trump administration keeps calling their atrocious family separation policy a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. But, let’s be clear about something: this is not a zero-tolerance policy. This is a zero-humanity policy. It needs to stop now,” said Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change Action. “FIRM Action and the Center for Community Change Action are ramping up our efforts to mobilize the millions of immigrant families whose lives we touch. Legislator who have lacked the decency and the humanity to stop the atrocities at the border and worked to advance inhumane immigration laws will be voted out of office. Let me close by saying that history will not look kindly on this disgraceful chapter in our nation’s history. It is up to us to go beyond our comfort zones and fight with everything we can to stop this madness. We must do so before this nation loses its soul—and our precious democracy is torn apart.”

Additionally, the children and immigration advocates were joined by the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA), and Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-NV).

The Trump administration cruel practice of separating families at the border has led to thousands of minor children being taken from their mothers and father and housed in military warehouses. In only one recent example, ICE agents ripped an 18-month-old toddler away from his mother who fled to the United States seeking asylum.

In response to this cruel policy and lack of transparency by the Trump administration, Democrats have demanded that the Trump Administration cease its practice of separating families and provide the Members with a detailed accounting of where the children are and how the agencies planned to reunite them with their families.