Duckworth, Durbin, Feinstein, 30 Senators Sponsor Legislation to End Separation of Immigrant Families
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and 30 of their Senate colleagues in sponsoring legislation to keep immigrant families together by preventing the Department of Homeland Security from taking children from their parents at the border. The Keep Families Together Act was developed in consultation with child welfare experts to ensure the federal government is acting in the best interest of children. The bill is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Children’s Law Center and the Young Center for Immigrant Rights.
“Separating families to inflict trauma on children and parents seeking asylum in America is wrong, plain and simple. Since the Trump Administration has decided to abandon our nation’s values by enforcing this practice, it is up to those of us in Congress to show moral leadership and end this cruel and inhumane policy,” said Duckworth.
“Let me be clear: there is no law requiring this Administration to separate children from their parents—Attorney General Sessions and Secretary Nielsen are choosing to tear families apart to intimidate those who are lawfully seeking asylum in our country. It’s extreme, heartbreaking, un-American, and has to stop,” said Durbin.
On May 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all adults who arrive at the border would be prosecuted for illegal entry, even if they attempt to seek asylum. This policy, which has never before been pursued, has resulted in parents being separated from their children.
Prosecuting individuals who are seeking asylum may also violate the United States’ obligations under international law, including the U.N. convention on refugees and its Protocol.
At a May 24, 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Customs and Border Protection informed Senator Feinstein that 658 children were taken from 638 parents during a 14-day period in May, an average of 47 children being taken from their parents each day.
To ensure the bill protects the welfare of children, it allows children to be separated from their parents only in the event they are being trafficked or abused by their parents. To provide an additional layer of protection, the bill provides for an immediate review by a superior upon the recommendation to separate, and only after consultation with a child welfare expert.
In addition to Senators Duckworth, Durbin, and Feinstein, the bill is cosponsored by 30 Senators, including Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Udall (D-NM) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
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