Democratic Leaders Demand Trump Administration End Cruel Practice of Separating Families At The Border

June 1, 2018
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, House Democratic Leaders sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding that the Trump administration immediately cease its policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border.

Led by Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the letter was co-signed by Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda Sánchez.

“Americans across the nation are horrified by actions undertaken to separate and therefore punish children seeking safety and refuge in the United States. This practice is antithetical not only to American values but to basic decency and humanity,” the lawmakers wrote. “It's no secret why many seeking refuge are coming from countries in Central America -- many nations in the region are undergoing significant challenges and problems with violence, corruption, and threats by dangerous gangs. We should be doing more to address the root causes of these problems so that people don't feel compelled to flee in the first place.”

President Trump’s administration has repeatedly said its policy of separating minor children from families was designed to create a punishing disincentive for other individuals from seeking refuge in the United States. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in early May that taking children would be "a tough deterrent.”

This cruel practice has led to hundreds of minor children being separated from their families and housed in military warehouses or relegated to foster care. 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.

“Harming children -- and separating children from their families is harmful -- should not be used to deter others from seeking safety, nor should our institutions be the source of further hardship given the situation that these innocent children are fleeing,” wrote the lawmakers. “That is hardly how the United States should treat children – unnecessarily inflicting trauma. And it is a testament to the dire situation in Central America that these young people continue to arrive in spite of the supposed ‘deterrents’ the department has employed.”

Read the full letter here.