July 27, 2018

Duckworth: Trump Administration Created Humanitarian Crisis, Unacceptable That They are Unable to Fix It

Senator speaks out as Trump Administration misses second court-mandated deadline to reunite all families separated at the border


[CHICAGO, IL] - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) spoke out today as the Trump Administration failed to meet yesterday’s second court-mandated deadline to reunite all families. Duckworth was joined by members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is currently challenging the Trump Administration’s practice of forcibly separating asylum-seeking parents and young children in court. A photo of today’s press conference is available here.

“I’m here today because the Trump Administration manufactured a humanitarian crisis by tearing families apart,” Duckworth said. “It is becoming clear that there are some families who will never be reunited. That’s something no parent should ever experience.”

Duckworth also criticized the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) lack of transparency and apparent stonewalling of Congressional oversight efforts. The Senator planned to visit the Casa Guadalupe shelter today, a facility facing allegations of emotional and physical abuse of separated children in its care, but HHS refused to accommodate her request citing bureaucratic challenges.

“We’ve seen reports about abuse and mistreatment at some of the facilities holding these innocent children, including right here in Illinois, and now the Department of Health and Human Services seems to be stonewalling my legitimate efforts at oversight, even when going through what they say are the proper channels,” Duckworth said.

After reports of abuse at the Heartland Alliance Casa Guadalupe shelter surfaced last week, Duckworth wrote Heartland Alliance CEO Evenlyn Diaz requesting swift and immediate action to complete its internal investigation and remedy the allegations of abuse experienced by children. Duckworth also requested the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigate the abuse claims at Casa Guadalupe and make its findings public.

Last month, Duckworth called on HHS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop and implement a plan to reunite families who were forcibly separated under Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. In addition, just hours after Duckworth and 40 colleagues demanded an investigation into the treatment of children and separated from parents, the HHS OIG announced a comprehensive review of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program.

Earlier this month, Duckworth joined U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and 10 colleagues in introducing the Reunite Every Unaccompanied Newborn Infant, Toddler and Other Children Expeditiously (REUNITE) Act. The legislation that would immediately reunify all families and establish a permanent system of coordination between agencies and non-governmental organizations to protect detained immigrants with children.