WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) was joined by 18 of her Democratic colleagues today in sending a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding that DHS provide detailed information on its efforts to reunite families separated by the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy and provide access for parents and other family members to essential information about their child or children during the period of separation. The Members drafted the letter as part of their investigation of several detention facilities in South Texas in June, where they spoke with parents and children torn apart after their families sought asylum at our southern border.
“Let’s be clear: This self-induced crisis did not end with the President’s reluctant issuance of an Executive Order or with the U.S. District Court’s intervention to restore some much-needed humanity and legality to the Trump Administration’s immigration policies,” said Rep. Speier. “As of Monday, HHS reported that 2,551 children remain in federal custody and separated from their families. HHS also reported that the government has matched 2,480 of those children with their parents. However, HHS said that only 1,609 such parents are in government custody, meaning many parents have either been deported or released and are separated by up to thousands of miles, if not multiple countries. The trauma of that severance is compounded every day that these children and families remain trapped in the nightmare created by this Administration when it failed to establish adequate record-keeping processes from the very beginning.”
“Between sobs, mothers in ICE custody told us that they had no idea where their children were or who was caring for them. Many had lived in detention for weeks without ever being able to talk to their children. It’s unimaginable that, almost a month later, my office is still receiving reports that some parents in ICE custody continue to suffer lack of access or basic information about their children and continue to plead for help,” Rep. Speier said.
“DHS must immediately provide proof of its compliance with the requirements of the court’s preliminary injunction, including any and all efforts to carry out timely reunification for families and telephonic contact for those who remain disconnected from their children. They also must provide detailed accounts of what happens to each family after reunification occurs. While we cannot erase the irreparable harm that has already been wrought by this heinous policy, we must work to minimize additional trauma by reuniting these families as quickly as possible. Now that we have witnessed the depths to which this Administration is willing to sink to enact its vision of an immigrant-free America, my colleagues and I will hold it accountable for every reunification and will not stop until this cruel and baseless policy is relegated to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.