Senators demand answers from immigration officials on family reunification
Aug 02 2018
The administration continues to defend itself.
"We have officers in these facilities", he said. "But the moral outrage around family separations coming from nearly every corner of the American population I think is a compelling force to remind them to do their jobs".
Matthew Albence, a top official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, even compared family detention centers to "summer camps". As NPR's Joel Rose reports, administration officials mostly deny doing anything wrong despite bipartisan criticism.
White's remarks came as the Judiciary committee questioned officials about what has become an election-year liability for the Republicans and the White House - President Donald Trump's separation of migrant children from detained families.
After being asked if they would feel comfortable sending their own children there, one panelist, Jennifer Higgins, said, "That's a hard question to answer".
CARLA PROVOST: Sir, it's our responsibility in CBP to make the apprehensions and turn subjects over to our partners at ICE and/or HHS. The associate director of refugee, asylum, and worldwide operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Higgins continued, "It's hard to put myself in the position of an individual who takes a risky journey in which their child could be harmed, let alone whether I would send my children". That frustrated Democrats on Capitol Hill today. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of IL said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen should resign and that someone "has to accept responsibility" for policies that show "the extremes this administration will go to".
Immigrant advocates and lawyers have said that the policy has been chaotic, and that it was evident there was no plan in place for how to reunify families before the separations began on a large scale. "It is and was a cruel policy inconsistent with values of this nation". Sabraw showered White with praise for his reunification plan, and for his willingness to accept the "undisputed facts that have led to this hard situation" and the "responsibility" of the government to fix it.
ROSE: But Nielsen shows no signs of quitting. She was hundreds of miles away Tuesday at a cybersecurity conference in New York City.
Another proposal to improve the family separation problem includes hiring more immigration judges to alleviate the 700,000-case backlog now in the system. Then a federal judge in California ordered the administration to reunite more than 2,500 children who were separated from their parents. "Obviously that's unacceptable." Lawmakers and activists have also focused on some 400 children who remain in detention because their parents were deported.
CHARLES GRASSLEY: We ought to be disturbed.
"I think we're missing the point", answered Albence.
The notion of a government shutdown was criticized by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby. He understands why the Trump administration took a zero tolerance stance against illegal border crossers.
"No one, no matter what their immigration status, should have to suffer such abuse", Grassley said at Tuesday's hearing.
Those consequences were that parents were separated from their children when they were sent to federal detention, while the children were sent to shelters.
He also says Congress must fix "the DUMBEST & WORST immigration laws anywhere in the world!" and urges voters to "Vote "R" in November.
The AP reported last month that children held at an immigration detention facility in Staunton, Virginia, said they were beaten while handcuffed, locked in solitary confinement and left nude and cold in concrete cells.
The senators' letter, based on articles by The Associated Press and other news organizations, says the allegations suggest "a long-term pattern" of mistreatment.