Press Releases

Reps. Roybal-Allard & Jayapal, Leader Pelosi, House Members Hold Shadow Hearing on Family Separation at the U.S.-Mexico Border

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Washington, June 21, 2018 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), joined by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and additional House Democrats, held a shadow hearing on Capitol Hill to discuss the impact and human cost of President Trump’s cruel family separation policy that has led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents.  Expert insight on this issue was provided by panelists Eleni Bakst, Equal Justice Works Fellow of Human Rights First; Danielle Dooley, MD, MPhil, FAAP, American Academy of Pediatrics; and Jennifer Podkul, Policy Director at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).  The hearing can be viewed here, beginning at the 1:45 mark.

The hearing was hosted by Reps. Roybal-Allard and Jayapal, the co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, which is a consortium of members of Congress and national advocacy groups dedicated to advancing comprehensive immigration reform, while emphasizing the unique, and often dangerous, path immigrant women face as they seek refuge for themselves and their families in the United States.

“The Trump policy of tearing children away from their mothers is unforgivable,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the trauma children face when separated from their parents is unimaginable and often irreversible.  When children experience toxic stress, it can permanently change the architecture of their brains, affect their health, and their ability to succeed academically.  It is impossible to understand how President Trump can ignore the pain he is causing these children.  First, he separates them from their parents and now he proposes to keep them together but in detention with no certain end in sight.  In addition, the president’s new executive order does nothing to reunite the children already separated from their parents.  Nor is there any effort on the president’s agenda to help address the damage that is already done to these children who have been separated.”

Other participants included Congressmembers Karen Bass (CA-37), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Judy Chu (CA-27), David Cicilline (RI-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Jacky Rosen (NV-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Bobby Scott (VA-03), and Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s opening remarks are below.

“On behalf of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, I want to welcome you to today’s forum.  As you know, immigrant women face unique and dangerous situations when they migrate to the United States. And when they are here, they have special needs, particularly if they have their children with them.  

“In 2013, I founded the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform to bring attention to their unique experiences and needs, because at the time they were seldom, if at all, part of any immigration debate.  In this Congress, I have been extremely blessed and honored to have as my co-chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.  Her experience, knowledge, and expertise on immigration issues and policies have been invaluable to me and to my congressional colleagues.  The working group, whose membership consists of the women of Congress, works in concert with over 20 national organizations.  This partnership helps to ensure the challenges and needs of immigrant women and children are discussed and addressed in any immigration debate and in the development of immigration policy.

“Today’s hearing is for the purpose of continuing to bring attention to the devastating harm being done by the president’s cruel and unconscionable anti-immigration policies.

“The Trump policy of tearing children away from their mothers is unforgivable.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the trauma children face when separated from their parents is unimaginable and often irreversible.  When children experience toxic stress, it can permanently change the architecture of their brains, affect their health, and their ability to succeed academically.

“It is impossible to understand how President Trump can ignore the pain he is causing these children.  First, he separates them from their parents and now he proposes to keep them together but in detention with no certain end in sight.  In addition, the president’s new executive order does nothing to reunite the children already separated from their parents.  Nor is there any effort on the president’s agenda to help address the damage that is already done to these children who have been separated.

“To give us greater insight into the impact of the Trump immigration policies, and how to mitigate, if possible, the damage that it has cause these children and their parents, it is my pleasure to welcome today’s panel of experts.  In addition to helping us better understand the trauma children endure when separated from their parents, and the impact of detention even when they are with their parents, they will give us on-the-ground testimony about what is actually occurring at our nation’s southern border.

“Panelists, thank you for being here, and especially thank you for all the work that you do to ensure that our immigrants and our refugees are treated with compassion and with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

 
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