Press Releases

Chairwoman Roybal-Allard Statement on Humanitarian Border Crisis and Sec. Nielsen Letter

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Washington, March 29, 2019 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) issued the following statement about the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s new letter to members of Congress:

“As chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I am closely monitoring the humanitarian crisis at the border, including through meetings and calls with CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and ICE Acting Director Ronald Vitiello.  

“Some in this administration may be blind to the awful plight of the migrants trapped at the center of this crisis, but I cannot and will not ignore the frightened, suffering families in U.S. custody on our border.

“I ask you to imagine having no choice but to flee your home country – leaving behind everyone and everything you know – because it’s your only chance to stay alive, or the only way to protect your children.  Imagine enduring danger and abuse on the journey to our border, because you literally have no other choice if you want to survive.

“Then, imagine finally getting to America’s border, only to be caged behind chain-linked fencing under a bridge.  Imagine the hopelessness and helplessness that these migrant families must feel, as the cries of caged children and the screams of captive babies echo through the holding pen.

“This administration’s treatment of migrants is totally beneath all standards of American decency.  I will use every means at my disposal to make sure migrants in U.S. custody are kept safe and treated properly.  That includes preservation of their legal right to seek asylum in the U.S.  And I emphatically oppose Secretary Nielsen’s call to expedite the deportation of innocent children for whom America is their best hope for a better future.  Our laws should protect children, not threaten their safety.

“Congress recently added extra humanitarian resources to DHS in its recently enacted funding bill for fiscal year 2019, and it looks like we will need further funding to address this humanitarian crisis.  I stand ready to quickly review and respond to any emergency supplemental appropriations request.  That request should include resources to help our non-profit partners provide migrants with shelter and support.

“As we respond to this crisis, I encourage DHS to use the transfer authority provided by Congress, which is intended to let the department respond to humanitarian crises like the one unfolding at our border.  I also expect CBP and ICE to fully prioritize their existing appropriations to address the high-priority needs at our border.

“In addition, I want to recognize the strain this challenge is placing on DHS personnel.  I thank them for their hard work and dedication, and I strongly urge them, under these difficult circumstances, to honor and uphold their charge to treat everyone in their custody with dignity and respect.  

“I also want to thank the many non-profit organizations working with the department to provide shelter to migrants and help orient them upon their release from DHS custody.  The work of these organizations is invaluable in providing social services and legal assistance to migrants pursuing their legal right to seek asylum.”

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