Benjamin L. Cardin

Marc Morial

Marion Wright Edelman

 



Cardin, Finance Democrats Demand Plan to Reunite Children Separated From Their Parents at the Border

Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2018)—U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined Finance Committee Democrats today in demanding to know how the Trump administration is ensuring the safety of children separated from their parents under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy and how the administration plans to reunify children and families.

In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, the senators noted that many of the children separated from their families under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy are being detained in facilities operated through HHS.

“While we are encouraged the President has signed the Executive Order: Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation to stop the unnecessary and cruel separation of children from their families, by no means is this crisis over,” they wrote. “Given the Finance Committee’s jurisdiction over the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the U.S. foster care system, we demand answers on how ACF will ensure the safety, well-being, and reunification of the reportedly more than 2,300 children who have been separated from their families in recent weeks.”

Earlier this month, Cardin joined 39 of his colleagues in calling for Trump to reverse his inhumane policy of separating children from families who cross the U.S. southern border seeking asylum in the United States. The senators cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in stressing the short- and long-term damage to these children from being unnecessarily separated from their families and from unnecessary institutionalization.

The Senators asked for answers by June 27, 2018.

In addition to Cardin, the letter was signed by Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., as well as Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Tom Carper, D-Del., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Robert P. Casey, Jr., D-Penn., Mark Warner, D-Va., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

The full text of the letter can be found at https://www.cardin. senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Letter%20to%20Secretary%20Azar_separation%20children%20families.pdf.

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Inhumane Immigration Policy is an Inapt Solution to an Imaginary Crisis

“The facts set forth before the Court portray reactive governance—responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making. They belie measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution. This is particularly so in the treatment of migrants, many of whom are asylum seekers and small children.”
—U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabrow,
June 26, 2018

 

(June 27, 2018)—The images of weeping children housed in chain-link cages has horrified the nation. The Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of imprisoning asylum seekers and wrenching families apart has proved so toxic that it has been forced to abandon it—at least officially—and has been ordered to reunite those already separated.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives failed to pass a broad immigration bill that would have addressed family separations at the border and the status of Dreamers—another “chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making” resulting from cancellation of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

It’s hard to imagine what kind of crisis would justify the trauma being inflicted on refugee families and Dreamers. But the fact is, there is no crisis.

Illegal crossings of the southern border have steadily declined over the last decade, last year reaching its lowest level in nearly 50 years. Writing in The Atlantic, City University of New York Professor Peter Beinart points out that, despite a slight uptick this year, drastically falling birth rates in Mexico mean there simply is a far smaller pool of potential migrants. A higher percentage of those crossing the southern border now are fleeing violence-plagued Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

It is these refugees who make up the overwhelming majority of children who have been separated from their parents.

What effect do these illegal border crossings have on American society, that such drastic measures should be taken in response? Claims of an immigrant-fueled crime wave are blatantly false. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, “Immigrants are in fact much less likely to commit crime than natives, and the presence of large numbers of immigrants seems to lower crime rates.” The study added that “This disparity also holds for young men most likely to be undocumented immigrants: Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men.”

The study concluded, “Today, the belief that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes is perpetuated by ‘issue entrepreneurs’ who promote the immigrant-crime connection in order to drive restrictionist immigration policy.”

What of the economic effects of immigration? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.  The Trump Administration rejected the findings.

With falling rates of illegal border crossings, relatively low crime rates among immigrant communities and a net positive economic benefit from refugees, what could possibly be fueling the Administration’s brutal crackdown on immigrants?

One clue may lie in the fact that negative views about immigrants was a significant factor in determining how people voted in the Presidential election. The so-called immigration crisis is a classic case of inventing a disease in order to sell the cure. But instead of losing a few dollars to gain a bottle of useless snake oil, we are losing our soul as a nation and gaining the destructive force of fear.

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Do You Care? How Much? What Will You Do Now?

(June 29, 2018)—“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” were the puzzling and provocative words on the coat First Lady Melania Trump chose to wear when she visited the Texas border for the first time to be briefed about children cruelly separated from parents and shipped around the nation by abusive Trump Administration zero tolerance anti-immigration policies and practices. Were the six words showcased on her clothing simply thoughtless or callous or a challenge to those who care deeply about child wellbeing and are desperate to stop the inhumane practice of taking children from parents, some less than a year old, and shunting them to unknown destinations with strangers to be handed over to more strangers for care? I can only imagine the terror and despair felt by over 2,000 severed children and parents. It is sickening that thousands of children have been snatched from parents in a strange land and placed with strange caregivers, who may not speak their language, in detention facilities—even cages—with no timeline for how and when they will be reunited with their parents who may not know where they are. What cruel and unusual punishment for a country that purports to be civilized! This is national terrorism that shames us all!

As the Trump Administration continues cruel policies which sever crucial child-parent bonds and ignores due process protections under American law, as more children and families continue to be confined in detention and other facilities, I hope our voices will reach a thundering roar to penetrate the moral deafness of this Administration. The anti-immigrant sentiment whipped up by the intemperate rhetoric of our President is similar to another historic period of toxic hatred, bigotry and intolerance during slavery which dehumanized millions and severed family bonds. We must meet today’s snatching of children from parents with roaring nonviolent resistance.

In his famous 1852 Fourth of July address, the brilliant former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.…”

Your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity … On this Fourth of July, how [did] an immigrant child snatched from parents by strangers understand our national holiday? Amidst loud fireworks and colorful parades and eloquent speeches about freedom [did] she recognize the lofty promises in our Declaration of Independence or the truth in Frederick Douglass’s words? When children study today’s history a generation from now I hope they will learn about a groundswell of people of conscience in America who were on the right side of history and fought back attempted cruel internment of innocent children who had the bad luck to be born in tyrannical countries only to flee to a new tyranny of American family breakup. All those who take seriously the commandments to love one another and treat others as we want to be treated must continue to speak out relentlessly to welcome those fleeing tyranny and ensure they do not face political tyranny in our nation. We must make clear that “Yes, we really do care” and do whatever is necessary to stop the shameful national child abuse that tarnishes our nation.

God did not make two classes of children and values each child as God’s own sacred gift regardless of race, ethnicity and religion. I share this prayer to the God of All Children and hope our current Administration will recover its sense of moral decency and respect for the sacredness of every child.

 

A Prayer to the God of All Children

O God of the children of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, of

Myanmar, Syria Nigeria, Sudan, South Africa and South Carolina,

Of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen

Of Rohingya and Palestinian children and refugee children without a safe country or space to welcome them,

Help us to love and respect and protect and welcome them all.

 

O God of Black and Brown and White and

Albino children and those all mixed together

Of children who are rich and poor and in between

Of children who speak English and Russian and Hmong, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Arabic and languages and dialects our ears cannot discern,

Help us to love and respect and protect and welcome them all.

 

O God of the child prodigy and child prostitute, of the child of rapture and the child of rape,

Of run or thrown away and sexually trafficked children who struggle every day without parent or place or friend or future, and of LGBT+ children struggling to be who they are,

Help us to love and respect and protect and welcome them all.

 

O God of children who can walk and talk and hear and see and sing and dance and jump and play and of children who wish they could but can’t

Of children who are loved and unloved, wanted and unwanted,

Help us to love and respect and protect and welcome them all.

 

O God of incarcerated, beggar, beaten, abused, orphaned, neglected, homeless, AIDS, drug, violence, and hunger-ravaged children and children torn from parents and caged in strange lands,

Of emotionally and physically and mentally fragile children, and children who rebel and ridicule, torment and taunt,

Help us to love and respect and protect and welcome them all.

 

O God of children of destiny and of despair, ravaged by the wars and ideologies and political agendas of adults,

Of children fleeing crime and drug cartels and gang violence, and life threatening poverty

Of disfigured, diseased, and dying children

Of children without hope and of children with hope to spare and to share,

Help us to love and respect and protect and welcome them all.

 

 

Marian Wright Edelmanis President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.

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