“Grotesque” and “shameful” – emotional and even angry words from four Oregon lawmakers Saturday, who slammed the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
They say families coming across the border are being ripped apart.
“Make no mistake – children are being ripped out of their parents’ arms because of the Trump-Sessions policy,” said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.
“They each ought to have a chance to prove their case. That's the law,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
There were emotional moments from four Oregon Democrats who met Saturday at a federal prison in Sheridan that is holding undocumented immigrants.
“You'll be arrested as a criminal, you'll be put in a prison, your children will be taken away from you,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley.
Behind the walls of the facility are 123 undocumented immigrants, all men, many seeking asylum. They’re being held there by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
“A shameful moment in our history,” said Blumenauer.
“The detainees are largely lumped together, and then dumped in a prison,” said Sen. Ron Wyden.
Sen. Merkley is taking the lead on this message. He was joined Saturday by Sen. Wyden and representatives Blumenauer and Bonamici.
“We spoke with a man who'd been shot in his home county,” said Bonamici. “He showed us where the bullets had hit him. He has not been able to get medical care here."
The lawmakers say those fathers have been ripped away from their wives and children – saying they're being treated like prisoners, only getting outside a few hours a day, and not getting access to legal representation.
“One of them had a child that had been separated from a child who was only a year and a half old. Now, tomorrow is Father’s Day,” said Wyden.
At one point, Blumenauer had a tough time finding the right words.
“I just think … I kept thinking about my grandkids... under 6.... what would happen to them,” he said.
About 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past six weeks, according to new numbers Saturday from the Department of Homeland Security.
“When I asked these gentlemen, what do you think will happen to you when you go back to your home country – almost every one of them said we will be killed,” said Bonamici.
The lawmakers say irreparable harm is being inflicted on children being taken away from their families.
“We need to find a solution that respects the humanity of people seeking asylum and one that protects the innocent children,” Bonamici said.
Merkley will continue his efforts Sunday on Father’s Day. He is returning to Texas to see the conditions at a Border Patrol processing center and the children's detention center.
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