WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro plans to travel late next week to the border of Mexico as part of a continuing effort by Democrats to stop the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy that has separated hundreds of children from their undocumented parents.
“This is not going away. This has got to be a national outcry,” DeLauro said Wednesday at the end of a press conference she hosted with about a dozen other House Democrats.
DeLauro said Democrats are planning several trips to the border in the coming weeks to keep pressure on the Trump administration to end the policy. She expects to be in McAllen, Texas on Friday, June 22, where the Washington Post has reported some 415 children were stripped from their parents between May 21 and June 5.
New Hampshire Representative Carol Shea-Porter said she would be traveling to the border this weekend with other Democrats. “We are going to be very visible,” she said. “We want to make sure the story doesn’t fade from the front page because it must not. It cannot.”
President Trump commented on the separation issue on June 8 before departing for the G-7 summit.
“I don’t like the children being separated from the parents. I don’t like it. I hate it,” Trump said. “But that’s a Democrat bill that we’re enforcing. We can change it in one day.”
“There is no law that requires immigrant families to be separated. The decision to charge everyone crossing the border with illegal entry — and the decision to charge asylum seekers in criminal court rather than waiting to see if they qualify for asylum — are both decisions the Trump administration has made.”
—Vox, June 11, 2018
There were more than 650 children separated from their parents at the border during a two week period in May.
DeLauro introduced a resolution last week in the House to condemn the policy. The measure, H. RES. 927, has been co-sponsored by 141 Democrats including Representatives John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes, and Elizabeth Esty. It would condemn the zero-tolerance policy as child abuse.
In a video posted on Facebook last week, she made that point voicing her opposition to the policy.
“What the Trump Administration is doing is immoral at its core. It is child abuse — pure and simple — there is no way around it,” she said. “Kids as young as 18 months are being held in custody away from their parents, with many showing signs of separation trauma that can cause irreparable harm. It is unimaginably heartbreaking.”
On Wednesday, DeLauro again described the policy as “child abuse” citing opposition from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Colleen Kraft, president of the AAP, wrote that the organization has called upon the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to immediately reverse the policy of forcibly separating children from their parents.
“During my recent trip to the border, I saw its impact with my own eyes, and I am not alone in my outrage and dismay at its sweeping cruelty,” Kraft wrote.
DeLauro also criticized President Trump for reportedly considering plans to build a “tent city” to house as many as 1,500 separated children.
“The President of the United States is seriously talking about establishing internment camps for children. It is beyond the pale,” she said.
DeLauro said Democrats will look for every opportunity to raise the issue. They plan to speak on the floor as well as in committee meetings, and they also are considering legislation.
In the Senate, Democrats are also opposing the zero-tolerance policy. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have co-sponsored S. 3036, a bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from removing children from their parents at the border.
“These children are being ripped from the arms of their parents for one reason: to terrorize them,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “This policy is deeply cruel and fundamentally antithetical to our values, as Americans and as decent human beings. Congress cannot stand idly by — we must stand up against this senseless, punishing policy.”
“I cannot describe the anger and shame I feel as I read stories about government agents ripping crying children out of their mother’s arms. America shouldn’t behave like a villain,” Murphy said in a statement. “President Trump could end this disgusting practice with a phone call if he wanted, but he won’t.