Several Connecticut lawmakers say they will visit the Texas-Mexico border this week as debate over immigration policy heated up on Capitol Hill.
Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty, Joe Courtney, and Jim Himes will be making the trek as they continue to criticize President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans for needlessly creating a humanitarian crisis.
The travel announcements on Thursday came as the House rejected an immigration bill favored by conservatives and House Republican leaders postponed a second vote on a more modest immigration bill they had crafted. Every Democrat voted against H.R. 4760, “Securing America’s Future Act,” and were joined by 41 Republicans to sink it.
Blumenthal said that he would travel Friday to the Southwest border with Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to “hold the Trump Administration accountable for their inhumane policy of separating children from their parents.”
Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end the policy of separating children from parents who are arrested at the border without proper documentation to enter the United States. However, Trump insisted that foreigners seeking to enter the country improperly would continue to be arrested under his zero-tolerance policy. Those with children, he said, would be detained together.
DeLauro said she would visit Texas this weekend to investigate facilities where children have been separated from their parents. Trump’s executive order is silent on how quickly an estimated 2,300 children separated from their parents will be reunited, she said.
“It is essential that Congress shines a light on this appalling policy and continue to pressure the White House to end it,” DeLauro said. “This is a fight for the soul of our nation — who we are and what our values are. We must continue to use our voices to oppose to this policy.”
Courtney said he would head to the Texas-Mexico border on Friday with several colleagues “to see firsthand” the federal immigration facilities where thousands of migrant children are currently detained.
“Congressional oversight of federal programs is a critically important role, & one of the reasons why this trip is so important. Despite yesterday’s executive order, thousands of migrant children continue to live in uncertainty, waiting out an agonizing limbo,” he wrote on Twitter.
Esty said she too plans to visit the Texas-Mexico border. She also criticized the executive order saying it does not address the fact that children will continue to be held in detention.
“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, keeping children locked up can cause them negative physical and emotional harm, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. What’s more, this Executive Order runs against a decades-old court-ordered prohibition against holding children in custody long term. Simply put, detention centers are no place for children, with or without their parents,” she said.
Republican leaders had scheduled debate and votes Thursday on two competing immigration bills as a way to appease moderate Republicans seeking changes to immigration policy that include a pathway to citizenship for so-called DREAMers — immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States at a young age and now could face deportation. Trump last year ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that had protected them. A federal court challenge has kept the DACA program running for now.
The moderate Republicans had threatened to demand a vote through a “discharge petition” that would have pitted four immigration bills in a “Queen of the Hill” contest — allowing the one with the most support to advance to the Senate. Democrats on Thursday called for all the bills to be considered but that effort was rejected.