Stop Separating Children From Their Parents At The Border.

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Reply from Senator Nelson

Thank you for contacting me regarding separation of families at the border. Many of these children and their parents are fleeing war, gang-violence, and persecution and we have a humanitarian obligation to protect them. The Trump Administration is routinely separating children of asylum-seekers from their parents when they arrive at the U.S. border. In some cases, these children are being held at shelters hundreds of miles away from their parents. On June 20, President Trump issued an executive order intended to end the practice of separating families. The President’s order does not solve this problem. It does nothing to reunify the more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents. On June 27, I was joined by 40 other Senators in sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General, calling for a comprehensive review of the Department’s program to house children at dozens of facilities across the country – including three in Florida. Later that day, HHS Inspector General announced that it will launch a wide-ranging investigation into their agency’s treatment of thousands of children, including those who were forcibly separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. Earlier this month, I visited a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shelter for children in Homestead, first on June 19, when I was denied entry, and again last Saturday—to see the facility for myself. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with the children or the person in charge of reuniting them with their families. On Tuesday, June 26, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, I pressed Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar for specifics on what his agency is doing to reunite families and why I was unable to speak with officials overseeing that process. Shortly after the hearing, I was finally able to speak with these officials, who informed me that of the 70 children being held at Homestead, eight have not been able to speak to their parents because HHS has been unable to locate them. And, officials admitted that the parents of these eight children may have been deported already. To view my exchange with Secretary Azar visit: https://youtu.be/V3VkoXsi9gE On June 7, I was joined by 38 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump demanding the reversal of this inhumane policy. The DHS Inspector General has also opened an investigation into this practice, after several of my colleagues and I contacted DHS back in March of this year about the issue. I am also cosponsoring S. 3036, the Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit DHS from separating children from their parents except in the most extreme circumstances or when doing so is in the best interest of the child. But, the President doesn’t need legislation to end the cruel treatment of innocent children—he has the authority to end this crisis immediately if he wants. It’s clear the Administration does not have a good plan for fixing the damage it has done to these children and their families. We must return to our true American values by treating those seeking asylum with dignity and respect and keeping families together. Sincerely, Bill Nelson

David Hostyk
4 years ago