By Joaquin Castro
Editor’s Note: Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) made the following remarks this week at a roundtable with Members of Congress and local immigration advocates regarding the family separation crisis after visiting the Casa Padre and Casa Presidente immigration detention center facilities:
I represent San Antonio in the United States Congress. The separation of families is a brutal policy put into place by President Trump. We had a chance to witness the effect of that brutality on some of the people who were being held at detention centers here at the Rio Grande Valley.
Some of the other members of Congress have described what we saw, but I want to tell you a little about what we saw. This was not the steel cages that we have seen at the processing centers, but the conditions were spartan.
There was an infant’s room at Casa Presidente, where there were four young children who were being attended to by staff. Two of those, an eight or nine-month-old named Roger and a young girl who was about one-year-old named Leah, who were separated from their family members.
In advocating and putting into place this policy, the President has taken us down a road where we are losing our humanity. Where we’re disrespecting humanity of others. The President has the power to end this practice and I agree that if he continues it, he should do as New México Congressman Ben Ray Luján said and come see the children for himself if he’s going to continue with this policy.
The United States is a better nation than this—should be a better nation than this. And over the last few weeks especially, all of us as members of Congress have been asked the question ‘what are you doing to stop this?’
Some of us have filed legislation, others are supporting legislation to stop it.
I’m very proud of those who have gone out, like the group yesterday [June 17] in McAllen, Senator Merkley, and others who went out. The group in El Paso, who lead a march in Tornillo with Beto O’Rourke, Veronica Escobar, and others.
We’re down here in Brownsville also to see for ourselves how the children are being treated, but also to highlight this issue and ask Americans most of all to speak up.
For Americans, it’s not just a matter of members of United States Congress stopping this. We need your help to do everything with your voice and your power.
This government is acting this way in such a brutal fashion in your name. And it was very striking over the last few weeks that the United Nations, for which the United States is the largest funder and has been the moral beacon for so long of that organization, condemned the United States for this brutal practice. It must end.
Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.