Press Releases

Rep. Roybal-Allard Condemns Trump Administration for Separating Children from Their Parents at the Border

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Washington, June 13, 2018 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
This morning, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), and fellow Congressmembers held a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to condemn the Trump Administration’s policy of separating immigrant families, tearing children from their parents, at the border.   Other speakers at the press conference, which can be viewed here, included Congressmembers Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Norma Torres (CA-35), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02).

“There are numerous reports, from caregivers in shelters and foster homes across the country, of young children crying out for their parents,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “These young children do not understand the Trump Administration’s xenophobic policies.  They do not understand why they cannot see their parents.  They simply yearn for their parents’ love and protection.

“Children as young as two years old are tragically suffering at the hands of the most powerful country in the world – our country, which has always been a leader and a beacon of hope and moral authority for the rest of the world.  I urge my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in protecting these innocent immigrant children.”

Last week, 140 members of Congress, including Reps. DeLauro and Roybal-Allard, introduced a House Resolution condemning this Trump Administration policy and identifying it as child abuse.  The new policy, introduced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April, calls for the prosecution of anyone entering the United States unlawfully – even if they are fleeing violence or other life-threatening situations in their home country.  Since the end of April, there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of immigrant children held in U.S. government custody separated from their parents.  

A copy of the congresswoman’s full statement at the press conference follows:

“Thank you, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, for introducing your resolution and for helping to shine a light on the horrors of family separation at our southern border.

“It’s important to note that we are not talking about gang members or those who want to do our country harm.  We are talking about children.  Yet Attorney General Sessions’ policy unconscionably separates children from their mothers.  Congresswoman DeLauro’s resolution highlights how tearing away children from their parents inflicts inhumane trauma that is nothing short of child abuse.

“Even more appalling is that this policy has nothing to do with our national security.  It is simply a cruel attempt to stop asylum seekers from seeking refuge in the United States.

“There are those who misguidedly blame the parents for the trauma their children are experiencing in our country.  Instead of blame, they should ask themselves what would they do if they and their child were to experience the same horrors of violence, sexual assaults, killings, and death threats, which caused these immigrant parents to leave their home and take the dangerous journey to the United States.  My guess is that, just as these parents have done, they would do whatever was necessary to protect their children.

“But instead of having compassion, the administration’s policies have heartbreaking consequences.  There are numerous reports, from caregivers in shelters and foster homes across the country, of young children crying out for their parents.  One of these children is five-year old Jose, who whimpers for his father each night.  Another child is six-year old Wil, who wakes up crying with a stomachache nearly every night.  These young children do not understand the Trump Administration’s xenophobic policies.  They do not understand why they cannot see their parents.  They simply yearn for their parents’ love and protection.

“According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a child’s relationship with their parent is vital for building a sense of self, safety, and trust.  When children can’t foster these qualities with their parents, they can permanently lose the ability to form meaningful relationships with individuals.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics tells us that traumatic separation causes children to experience extreme stress, anxiety, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.  These effects are most damaging when children are taken away from their parents without the opportunity to say goodbye.  Yet that is exactly what our government is doing to children like Jose and Wil and thousands like them who are being traumatized and changed forever.

“What is happening to our American value of caring for children?  When will the Republican leadership have the courage to defend these innocent children against the administration’s cruel and unnecessary child abuse policies?  These are questions only Republicans can answer.

“In the meantime, children as young as two years old are tragically suffering at the hands of the most powerful country in the world – our country, which has always been a leader and a beacon of hope and moral authority for the rest of the world.

“I urge my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in protecting these innocent immigrant children.

“Again, thank you, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, for your resolution and for fighting to protect innocent immigrant children.”


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