Saying, “the U.S. government should not be in the business of forcibly separating millions of U.S. children from their families,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined recently with National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Senator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) in calling on Congress to reject the supplemental Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriation request of $3 billion for fiscal year 2017 that would massively expand the country’s deportation force and detention camps.
NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía was accompanied by three American children whose parents were deported during an immigration sweep in February. The senators emphasized that the threat of losing a parent to deportation is one that more than five million children live with in the United States.
“These are the victims of deportation,” said Murguía. “These children are the consequences of a reckless policy that puts politics over families, common sense and human decency. Their stories will weigh on our national conscience for generations and are an affront to the belief that our nation respects the institution of family.”
Thirteen-year-old Fatima Avelica, a U.S. citizen, watched from the back seat as her father Romulo was stopped and arrested after dropping her sister off at school. Romulo has lived in this country for 25 years. Left in the wake of his detention are four American children between the ages of 12 and 24.
Rose Escobar’s husband Jose was deported to El Salvador—a country he has not seen since he was 16—over a paperwork problem that occurred more than a decade ago when his mother misfiled his residency renewal papers. He came to this country at 15, has no criminal record, and is married to an American citizen. They have two children—seven and two years old—and both are U.S. citizens.
“Sadly, there are thousands of families going through the same pain and hardship as the families here today. And there are millions of children who are U.S. citizens with at least one undocumented parent who worry every day about whether their mom or dad will be home when they get back from school,” said Schumer. “As if this weren’t enough, the Trump administration is requesting additional DHS funding to build a border wall and hire a deportation force. Instead of spending taxpayer dollars on a pointless wall, we should be investing in creating jobs and fixing our crumbling infrastructure, not in separating American families and harming kids and local economies.”
“Stories like the ones we heard are a painful reminder that the Trump approach to immigration presents us with an unprecedented need for legislative action to mitigate the wave of attacks on our immigrant and Latino communities,” said Menendez, who unveiled new legislation at the press conference to establish minimum standards of procedure and humane treatment for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and immigrants who are impacted by immigration enforcement and detention operations. “So while the administration insists on asking taxpayers to foot the billions to build walls, Senate Democrats will stay the course and seek ways to protect our community, our rights and our beliefs as a nation of immigrants.”
“We are a nation that was founded by immigrants,” said Harris. “When we look in the mirror, we know we are not being true to the ideals of who we are as a nation when we have an administration that will tear our families apart. Children don’t want to go to school because they are afraid their mom and dad won’t be home. Immigrants are afraid that local law enforcement, who are supposed to keep them safe, will act as an ICE agent and deport them. This is not reflective of a country that was founded on the ideals that we will speak up for the most vulnerable. We need policies that recognize that we have to stand up and we have to fight for who we are as a country and our values, and guarantee that when people’s liberties are at stake, they’re protected.”
“We cannot allow this scorched-earth policy to be implemented,” said Murguía. “We need to end the assault on our children, end the assault on our families and end the assault on our community.”