Rep. Roybal-Allard Statement on Today’s Deadline for Trump Administration to Reunite Separated Families
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and a co-chair of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, delivered the following prepared remarks today at a press conference about the Trump administration’s inability to reunite all separated immigrant families by today’s court-ordered deadline:
“We all know the cruel Trump policy of separating families has caused extensive trauma to children and parents. Not only has the Trump administration torn these families apart, the administration’s family separations were done so incompetently that they didn’t keep track of where the children and parents were relocated, and they had absolutely no plan how to reunify these families.
“Today is the deadline by when the court ordered the administration to reunite all these families. Yet we still have children and parents separated from each other, including as many as 463 parents who have been deported from the United States without their children. How long will they have to wait to be reunited with their sons and daughters? They don’t know, and we don’t know, and the administration doesn’t know. It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be years. And tragically, there is credible doubt that some will ever see their children again.
“As co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, we recently led a group of colleagues on a visit to our nation’s southern border, and we saw firsthand the pain and the suffering that is being experienced by these children and their parents.
“We heard from immigrant mothers about the terror and the heartbreak they felt when they were lied to and their children were taken from them under the Trump administration’s zero-humanity immigration policies.
“At a shelter, we heard from mothers who were separated from their children without any warning whatsoever. They had no knowledge of where their children were taken, and in many cases they were told that they would never see their children again. We also spoke to children who were told by DHS officials that their parents had abandoned them.
“At Port Isabel, an ICE detention center in South Texas, I spoke with a father who was seeking asylum with his thirteen-year-old son. The MS-13 gang, which the father said is targeting young men, was threatening his son if he did not join the gang. So in order to protect his son from becoming a gang member, he fled with his son to the United States seeking asylum. That’s one reason why it’s absolutely outrageous that now the administration will not accept fear of gangs or domestic violence in determining asylum cases.
“It was clear from our visit that these children and their parents should never have been separated or held in inhumane detention facilities. These families traveled to our country to escape violence, abuse, and death. And it is our obligation under international law, and our moral obligation as human beings, to help protect those seeking asylum from the horrors of their home and their country.
“The emotional pain and suffering we saw firsthand in Texas is seared in our memories. It was hard to believe that we were in the United States of America. And all of us left Texas more determined than ever before to stop the abuses, to reunite families, and to fight for immigration reforms that protect the dignity and the humanity of those who seek refuge in our country.
“Today, the clock runs out to reunite these families, but the trauma and the cruelty that these children and parents are facing continues to endure. We must not stop until every parent is unified with their child. Sadly, for the rest of their lives, they will live with the pain of their traumatic experience. And all I can say right now is shame on you, Mr. President, for forcing this pain on these children and these families.”