TEARING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 98
(House of Representatives - June 13, 2018)

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           TEARING IMMIGRANT CHILDREN AWAY FROM THEIR PARENTS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentleman from California (Mr. Correa) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.


                             General Leave

  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include 
extraneous material on the subject matter of my Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from California?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address this body on a very 
important issue that we need to bring to the attention of the people of 
this country.
  I am proud to have so many of my colleagues here today to stand up 
against the President's policy of systematically tearing immigrant 
children away from their families. These innocent children are being 
held under inhumane conditions at detention facilities, alone and apart 
from their parents.
  President Trump's chief of staff, General Kelly, recently, when asked 
about this, said:

       The children will be taken care of, put into foster care, 
     or whatever.

  This is an unacceptable answer.
  The administration is tearing children away from their parents, 
including infants and toddlers, and in some cases, holding these 
children in cages.
  The United Nations has noted that children arriving at the U.S. 
border who plead for asylum with their parents is a legal form of 
entry, and separating children away from their parents is illegal and a 
violation of human rights.
  These immoral practices are being executed by the Department of 
Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, to instill fear and 
deter families, who are already fleeing extreme fear and violence in 
their native homes. They are trying to, again, deter them from seeking 
legal protection in America.
  For example, from October 2017 to April 2018, 700 children were 
separated. But in just the first 13 days of May of this year, 2018, 658 
children were separated, which almost equals the previous 6 months. 
Children are literally being ripped from their mothers' arms, who are 
simply seeking safety for their families. And immorally, the 
administration is breaking up families, plain and simple. Asylum 
seekers should not be held hostage and penalized for wanting to be 
protected from harm.
  This new policy is clearly unprecedented, cruel, and altogether dead 
wrong. It is imperative that we stand up against the administration's 
un-American policies towards families.
  Today, my colleagues and I are standing up against this barbaric 
action and demand the administration stop punishing children and stop 
punishing families who are fearing for their lives.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. 
Lofgren), my good friend and distinguished colleague.
  Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Correa for yielding, and I 
thank him for organizing this Special Order.
  It is a part of immigration law--it is not a violation of immigration 
law, it is a part of immigration law--that people fleeing for their 
lives can come to the United States and apply for asylum. Not only is 
that in our statutes, but it is also in a treaty that we ratified. 
People concerned about the rule of law ought to realize this is part of 
our law.
  Here is what is happening. People fleeing for their lives, primarily 
from Central America, are going to the ports of entry. In some cases, 
we have received reports that they make their claim and their children 
are taken away from them, I believe in violation of law.
  In other cases, even though they are there to make an application, 
they are turned away by Border Patrol. They then go down the road and 
find a Border Patrol agent to turn themselves in to, to make their 
claim for political asylum. And when that happens, their children are 
then taken away from them.
  Mr. Speaker, there is a report today from the Department of Health 
and Human Services, which says that since this policy was adopted by 
the Trump administration, 1,329 kids have been taken from their parents 
in this cruel policy. I think that this is not the American way.

[[Page H5143]]

  Mr. Speaker, I saw a report from CNN today. Here is what it says: 
``The undocumented immigrant from Honduras sobbed as she told an 
attorney Tuesday how Federal authorities took her daughter while she 
breastfed the child in a detention center . . . when the woman 
resisted, she was handcuffed. . . .''
  The Catholic church has spoken out again today from CNN, and this is 
what Cardinal DiNardo said:

       Families are the foundational element of our society and 
     they must be able to stay together. While protecting our 
     borders is important, we can and must do better as a 
     government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure 
     that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the 
     answer and is immoral.

  We are here today to say: America, we need to take a stand. The 
President and his administration has decided to terrorize children in 
an effort to deter people from availing themselves of the opportunity 
provided for under immigration law. That is simply wrong.
  America, now is the time to be heard.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentlewoman from 
California for those remarks.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. Costa), my 
good friend and distinguished colleague.
  Mr. COSTA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I join with my colleagues this afternoon on what is, I 
think, a very important issue facing our country today, and that is 
remembering what our common shared values are all about: a Nation of 
immigrants, past and present.
  Mr. Speaker, I am deeply disturbed, as is my colleague, Congressman 
Correa, and others that are here, by the administration's current 
policy, which we believe tears families apart who are seeking asylum at 
our borders. That is simply not the American way. These are parents and 
children fleeing to America, coming here via legal means, seeking 
refuge for a host of different reasons.
  And what happens to them now?
  Children, including infants and toddlers, are taken from their 
parents' care, and sent to shelters, which we now know are sometimes 
juvenile detention centers. That is not right. That is not the American 
way. The parents are sent to detention facilities as well, which may be 
in the form of Federal prisons.
  At America's borders, this is happening to families; families who, 
again, are legally seeking asylum. We have had a whole history and 
tradition of allowing families who are seeking legal asylum.
  And what are they fleeing?
  Well, we know what they are fleeing: domestic violence, rape, murder, 
and gang violence.
  If that is not traumatizing enough, now we are talking about 
separating them and detaining them, and we are not even beginning to 
consider the sort of natural disasters that have afflicted neighbors of 
ours.
  This is an outrageous policy. I think it is morally disgusting and 
un-American. We are not a nation in terms of our shared values that 
tears families apart. We never have been. The American family is the 
foundation of our country. We are not a nation that systematically uses 
fear and the threat of detention to scare immigrants from trying to 
legally enter this country and build a better life for themselves and 
their families for what they might be fleeing.
  Yes, no one disputes that we need to secure our borders. We must 
ensure the safety of our Nation. That is our highest priority. We must 
prevent those who want to do harm to us from entering, whether we are 
talking about transnational gangs who are engaged in drug trafficking, 
or in sex trafficking, or in other illegal activities that devastate 
our communities. We all agree on that.
  I have consistently voted for improved border security funding and 
policies. But ripping these families apart like this is not securing 
our borders.
  For over a decade, I have been calling for comprehensive immigration 
reform that includes border security that fixes our broken immigration 
system, and does it in a way that is fair, just, and works. We had such 
a proposal in 2013 that the Senate passed 68-32. Sadly, we could not 
bring it up. It was a bipartisan measure.
  If we had a strong and comprehensive functioning immigration system, 
there would be no chance for these disgusting policies to occur, as 
they are now today.
  In closing, I stand here today calling on Congress to move on 
immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform, that is 
bipartisan. Let's put an end to these immoral, cruel, and un-American 
policies. If we can't do that, then let's just try to bring a clean 
Dream Act to the floor. I guess we will see what comes next week, in 
terms of what is being proposed.
  Mr. Speaker, I stand here today for families who are being ripped 
apart at the borders, for immigrants past and immigrants present, for 
let us never forget America is a Nation for over 240 years that has 
been made up of immigrants from all around the world. For the future, 
and the soul of our country, I ask that we come together and fix this 
broken immigration system.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman from 
California for his comments.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore), 
my distinguished colleague.
  Ms. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out that the United Nations has 
called this heartless act of separating children from their parents as 
``unlawful . . . and a serious violation of the rights of the child.'' 
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that such separation can 
cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child's development and affecting 
his or her health.
  I just want to say that many of my colleagues today have indicated 
that this is not who we are.

                              {time}  1745

  They have asked what I think is a rhetorical question, Mr. Correa. 
They have asked: Who are we?
  Well, I can tell you who we are through the agency of our head of 
state. We are people who have embraced the President of the Philippines 
who kills people who are accused of drug trafficking. Through the 
agency of our head of state, we are people who have embraced cruel 
dictators like Vladimir Putin who invaded a country. Through the agency 
of our head of state, we have asked to readmit Putin into the G7, 
making it the G8. Through the agency of our head of state, we have 
declared that Kim Jong-un is to be admired, that he is smart, that he 
is a good negotiator.
  Who we are, are people who are silent. We are quiet. So why are we 
asking ourselves who we are? This is who we are, and this is our watch, 
and the world is watching us. They are watching us be silent and say 
nothing.
  Who are we? We are people who have determined that Canada is an enemy 
of the state. We are people who are standing by while our Government, 
the United States of America, is violating international human rights 
law. That is who we are.
  Until we face the reality of who we are, we can't fix this. I could 
not have, 2 years ago, ever predicted that the United States would 
behave in this manner.
  This is a horrific practice.
  The demand is for all Americans to rise up against this, and 
especially those Americans who have been endowed with the privilege of 
representing the peoples of the United States of America, especially 
those people who are in leadership in this body.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentlewoman from 
Wisconsin, and I completely agree with her. We cannot be silent in 
these very challenging times. The whole world is upside down, and 
people are counting on us to make sure that we remind people of what is 
going on in Washington.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gonzalez), my 
good friend and distinguished colleague.
  Mr. GONZALEZ of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remind the 
American people of the quick phrase that was recently used by the 
current administration: ``It's not our fault.''
  It is not our fault. Really? That is that sentiment of our U.S. 
Attorney General who deflected the responsibility for a zero-tolerance 
policy that allows the separation of children from their parents.

[[Page H5144]]

  In the month of May, this evil new policy led to the separation of 
more than 600 children in a short 13-day span.
  Have we lost all our human decency? We are a Nation of laws. How can 
you explain family separation when it comes to asylum seekers? They 
have not crossed the border illegally, and yet they are being detained 
and their families separated as if they were here illegally.
  This is a clear attack on immigrants who have exhausted every last 
resource to seek refuge in the Nation that once welcomed the tired, the 
poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
  Have we forgotten the words spoken by Mark 12:31 to love thy neighbor 
as thyself? Is our new message to blame others and not take 
responsibility?
  I think it is important to consider the possible logistical 
challenges before implementing such policies. Perhaps instead of 
calling for zero tolerance first, you put prosecutors in place and 
facilities to house folks in a humane manner. Instead, we asked the 
U.S. Department of Justice to lend us their lawyers and to rent out 
vacant Walmart stores.
  I have no illusions about what the U.S. Department of Homeland 
Security and Health and Human Services are hiding behind those 
curtains.
  We have to remember that these immigrant families are not committing 
dangerous crimes. Asylum seekers are not criminals and are not here 
illegally.
  I represent an area along the border where crime is at record lows, 
yet the administration keeps saying the opposite. I believe our local 
officers and local courts and local judges and prosecutors in both 
State and Federal courts in my region. I believe them when they tell me 
what the crime rate is, what is happening in our communities.
  Right now, the only increased criminal activity I see is the 
egregious method of ripping families apart and herding immigrant 
children into a broken system.
  This is not the America the world knows and loves. This is a shameful 
period in our history, and we in this body have the responsibility to 
correct it.
  Mr. Speaker, if any of these frightened, innocent children ask a 
Member of this House why they are being separated from their families, 
we cannot merely say: It is not our fault.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman from 
Texas, and I have to say, when we talk about ``it's not our fault,'' 
let's remember Central American violence, gang violence, drugs, gangs. 
What fuels it? Our insatiable appetite in the United States for drugs. 
Our dollars that go into Central America, this is what fuels the 
violence.
  These children, these families, when they come of age, MS-13, whom 
the President talks about very often, tells these families: ``Either 
your children join the gang or they die.'' These parents make a third 
choice, which is to flee, to escape violence, and to seek asylum in 
America.
  It is not our fault? Those are our dollars that are fueling that 
violence.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. Peters), 
my good friend and distinguished colleague.
  Mr. PETERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Correa for his leadership in 
putting together this Special Order.
  I know this shocks us all, what is happening at the border, because 
in our country, family is an institution. It shapes every aspect of our 
lives.
  If you just listen to Ronald Reagan, who painted a wonderful picture 
of what family means in America, he said: ``The family has always been 
the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, 
and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and 
cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedoms.''

  That is Ronald Reagan talking about the family as an American 
institution.
  Today, family, that concept, is being torn apart and challenged at 
our own borders. Screaming children are being ripped from their 
parents' arms. These parents are fleeing government violence, domestic 
violence, religious persecution. They follow generations of people who 
came to America seeking a better life. Remember that America was 
founded by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe.
  We know the story all too well about what is happening at the border 
in San Diego where, last week, Dana Sabraw, a Federal judge appointed 
by George W. Bush, refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging family 
separation. The lawsuit involved a Congolese woman and her 7-year-old 
daughter who were separated at the San Ysidro border crossing after 
applying for asylum.
  As The New York Times described, the girl ``was taken away `screaming 
and crying, pleading with guards not to take her from her mother,''' 
and then she was sent to Chicago, thousands of miles away. They didn't 
see each other for 4 months.
  This is common practice. After children are taken from their parents, 
many parents don't have any idea where they went, who is taking care of 
them, or how to reach them.
  Now, this mother and her child were reunited, but only after a legal 
challenge and a DNA test.
  This mother was looking for the life all parents try to provide their 
children: one of security and comfort, one of hope, one of opportunity.
  We don't know the exact number of children who have been separated 
from their parents, but we do know that just one is unacceptable when 
their parents were just trying to give them a better life.
  It is also potentially unconstitutional, because I know people in 
this Chamber still care about that.
  In his opinion, Judge Sabraw said that family separation 
``arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child. Such 
conduct . . . is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with 
traditional notions of fair play and decency.''
  He also reiterated these same constitutional rights are guaranteed to 
the noncitizens who come to our borders and ask us for asylum.
  The American Psychological Association called on the Trump 
administration to stop this cruel practice, citing increased anxiety, 
depression, psychological distress, and developmental disruptions in 
children who are separated from their parents.
  But as parents, we don't need the American Psychological Association 
to tell us that. Imagine it is you and your children. Imagine how you 
would feel if you were trying to take care of your kids and had one 
torn away from you.
  We had one account of a woman nursing her baby. The baby girl was 
ripped from her arms while she was breast feeding at a detention 
center.
  How many children will have to suffer before we have to say, ``No 
more''?
  Thankfully, we can do something here. We will not admit every family 
who comes and asks for our protection. We understand they don't all met 
the criteria for asylum. But while they wait for a decision on their 
application, we can treat these families with respect and dignity that 
demonstrates American values to the rest of the world.
  Tearing families apart as an immigration deterrent is repulsive, and 
it is not us.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Mr. Correa, for his leadership and 
for holding this conversation on this important topic.
  It shocks the conscience. I hear all the time from my constituents 
who are horrified by this. We need to stop this. We will continue to 
come back and speak up if we have to, but this needs to end.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Correa once again for holding this hour.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank my distinguished colleague, the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Peters), and I also want to thank him 
for citing President Reagan's name in his comments, President Reagan 
from the good State of California, my home.
  Governor Reagan of the State of California, he understood family; he 
protected families; and President Reagan passed immigration reform in 
the United States. Thank you, President Reagan.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Carolyn 
B. Maloney), my good friend and distinguished colleague.
  Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the 
gentleman for yielding and for his leadership, and for organizing this 
and for reminding us of the leadership that the Republican Party took 
under President Reagan for comprehensive immigration reform, which we 
have all been calling for for years.

[[Page H5145]]

  Today, I rise because I believe our country is in a moment of crisis. 
This administration is turning its back on our ideals, our values, and 
our history as a safe harbor and beacon of light for the world's 
oppressed and threatened peoples.
  President Trump's heartless policy of ripping apart families who are 
coming to the United States seeking freedom from fear, from violence, 
is cruel, inhumane, and blatantly un-American.
  These families have traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to 
keep their children safe and away from the harm that awaits them at 
home. No one takes that journey lightly. No one leaves behind the only 
home they have known, their friends, their extended family, if they 
have any other choice.
  Yet, instead of accepting these refugees with compassion, this 
administration is persecuting and prosecuting those fleeing danger, 
taking babies from their mothers' and fathers' arms, causing great 
trauma.
  There is absolutely no justification for this policy. It is cruelty 
for cruelty's sake. This is not who we are as a Nation.
  It is why I have joined Ranking Member Cummings to demand an 
Oversight and Government Reform hearing on this reckless policy, and 
why I have signed on to a resolution condemning this horrific behavior 
as the child abuse that it is, and why I am joining the Women's Caucus 
next week at a shadow hearing, because we have requested a hearing from 
the Republican majority, and they have not granted it, so we are having 
our own hearing to explore this issue more.
  The administration needs to immediately change course, and every 
Member of Congress must hold it accountable for doing so.
  These children, these families, and this country deserve so much 
better.
  Mr. Speaker, I again thank my good friend, Representative Correa, for 
hosting this Special Order, for his leadership, and for allowing me to 
participate in this Special Order this evening.

                              {time}  1800

  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentlewoman from 
New York for her comments.
  I yield to the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Cicilline), my good 
friend and distinguished colleague.
  Mr. CICILLINE. Mr. Speaker, America has a long and wonderful 
tradition of welcoming people from all over the world who are fleeing 
violence and famine and war and repression. It is, in fact, one of the 
founding values of our country, and the words on the Statue of Liberty 
remind us of that:

     Give me your tired, your poor,
     Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
     The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
     Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
     I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

  What we are here tonight to do, Mr. Speaker, is to raise our voices 
and be sure the American people understand what is underway in our 
country.
  The Trump administration has put forth a program they call zero 
tolerance. And just to explain what this means, people who are fleeing 
gang violence, persecution, incredible deprivation, domestic violence, 
travel a long distance, come to America for the hope of being safe.
  We have laws in this country that say if, in fact, you are 
legitimately fleeing violence or persecution and you can demonstrate 
that, you are eligible for something called asylum. It is an 
international requirement. It is in our law. This is a lawful process.
  They come to America, to the golden door. And what is happening now 
in this country, parents are being ripped from their children, 
separated, mothers hearing their children in another room crying out 
their names, pleading for their mothers, and there is nothing they can 
do because they are being detained.
  Is this who we are?
  This is not what we expect of the greatest democracy in the world. It 
is not only against the law, it is not only in violation of 
international obligations, imagine, the United States is being 
condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees and Human 
Rights because of this conduct.
  It has been described as torture of children, torture being defined 
as an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or 
mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as 
punishing him or her for an act he or she or a third person has 
committed. This is torture on kids, to rip them from their parents.
  And we, today, in the Judiciary Committee pleaded with the chairman: 
Bring this matter before the Judiciary. We have oversight 
responsibility for this process. We have a right to know what is going 
on.
  But we had a hearing today on a Texas water district issue, a permit 
issue, but we couldn't find time to bring the officials responsible for 
this before our committee.
  This is a practice which does violence to children, which is tearing 
families apart, and for which there is no legal justification. And we 
have pleaded with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle: Raise 
your voices. The world is watching America in this moment, and we are 
undermining our standing in the world, the values that we promote 
around the world, and we are particularly doing tremendous damage to 
these children and families that are being separated.
  We have asylum laws for a reason. Those have been enacted by the 
Congress of the United States, and they should be respected by these 
officials in the Department of Homeland Security and ICE and by the 
Attorney General of the United States.
  It is hard to describe the heartache and the pain and the suffering 
that this illegal, unconstitutional, despicable policy is causing; and 
our colleagues, my friends on the other side of the aisle, have not so 
much as raised a peep. They are responsible in their silence for the 
continuation of this program.
  We will continue to raise our voices to do everything that we can to 
bring the attention of the American people to this travesty because, 
only by the American people contacting their Members of Congress, 
demanding that this policy change, speaking out against this horrific 
brutality that is occurring in detention facilities all across this 
country--this does not reflect the values of our country. It does not 
reflect our shared values of respecting the human dignity of every 
person, of this special place that children have and the special 
responsibility that we have for children.
  We have a responsibility to do something about it, to stop this, to 
bring the Attorney General before the Congress of the United States, to 
hold him accountable for this horrific behavior and, once again, 
demonstrate to the world that we are a country that lifts people up, 
that respects human rights, that honors children, and that demonstrates 
a commitment to family values. This zero tolerance policy does violence 
to all of that.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for giving me an opportunity to be 
heard.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
O'Rourke), my good friend and distinguished colleague.
  Mr. O'ROURKE. Mr. Speaker, on Monday of this week, I was in McAllen, 
Texas, a beautiful community comprised of some incredibly courageous, 
strong, kindhearted people in the Rio Grande Valley in the State of 
Texas, connected by the Rio Grande River to Reynosa, Mexico, forming 
one of these extraordinary binational communities that distinguish our 
connection with Mexico with the State of Texas for the United States of 
America.
  I was able to visit the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, 
which is the busiest Border Patrol station in the country. I happened 
to be there during the busiest shift during that day in that busy 
station, and I was able to spend some time with the amazing women and 
men of the Border Patrol, who have one of the toughest jobs that I can 
imagine: keeping our country safe, protecting our communities and the 
families within our communities, and meeting those who are at their 
most desperate, most vulnerable moment in their lives, people who have 
fled terror and violence, death and deprivation in their countries to 
come to ours, to seek asylum, to seek safety, to seek refuge.

  In that Border Patrol station I had the ability to meet a family, a 
young mother and her young child, who had fled Honduras and had 
traveled more

[[Page H5146]]

than 2,000 miles to come to this country. And because they presented 
themselves to Border Patrol agents, didn't try to flee from them, went 
to those Border Patrol agents seeking asylum in between the ports of 
entry and didn't do it at the international bridge, didn't do it at the 
port of entry, that young mother and her child were arrested. They were 
being held in that cell comprised of cinder blocks, sitting on a hard 
concrete bench with a number of other mothers and young children, had 
just been arrested within the last 24 hours and were about to go to the 
Border Patrol Processing Center. Through tears, that young mother was 
able to tell me about her journey.
  When I asked her why she didn't choose to cross at the port of entry, 
where she could have lawfully petitioned for asylum, she said: ``I was 
scared.'' She didn't know where to cross.
  And, frankly, those crossing areas in Reynosa on the Mexican side of 
the U.S.-Mexico border are controlled by the cartels. The cartels 
determined where she and her 7-year-old daughter were going to cross.
  Not lost on me was the fact that her daughter was gripping her 
mother's hand for dear life, as I imagine she had been for the last 3 
weeks when they made that 2,000-mile journey, where, if they were 
lucky, they made it on foot.
  They also made it atop, not inside of, a train, known as La Bestia, 
or the Beast, and where they were fortunate enough to survive that 
journey and come to our front door of the United States at the Texas-
Mexico border, and where she was arrested and, unbeknownst to her and 
to that little girl who was clutching her hand, they would, within 
hours, be separated and might not know when they would be joined again, 
if ever.
  One hundred percent of the young women and men who travel with those 
young children in between our ports of entry are arrested, are 
detained, imprisoned, jailed in those Border Patrol stations, where 
they next go to the next place that I went to in McAllen, which was the 
Border Patrol processing center, a gigantic warehouse, where I saw the 
children who had just been separated from their moms and dads behind 
cyclone fencing, sleeping on polished concrete floors with a mattress 5 
or 6 inches thick directly on the ground, Mylar blankets keeping them 
warm, again, with Border Patrol agents who were as humane and 
professional as possible, given the circumstances and the conditions.
  Men separated in other holding pods, women behind cyclone fences in 
other holding pods. There was another cyclone-fenced area open for 
public view where you went to the bathroom and where we had to be able 
to see your head or your feet. Those are the processes and procedures 
and the laws under which those people are being held.
  After that, I went to the international bridge at Reynosa and, on the 
Mexican side, was able to talk to three different people who were 
seeking asylum. Two of them had made the trip from Guatemala. When they 
got to Reynosa, they were kidnapped by cartels, held for 12 days, 
without clothes, without access to the outside world, with the 
exception of being able to make calls to family members who could cough 
up the $7,500 that would purchase their freedom, allow them to leave 
captivity and make their way to the international bridge, literally 10 
feet away from the international line and the United States of America, 
where, if they could step foot on our soil, they would be able to 
lawfully petition for asylum.
  But standing there were four officers of Customs and Border 
Protection who would not let them pass, who told them we do not have 
capacity within our country and, therefore, they could not lawfully 
petition for asylum, therefore, perversely providing the incentive for 
them to try to cross in between the ports of entry illegally, where 
they will be arrested, criminally prosecuted, and sent back to 
countries from which they are fleeing certain death.
  After that, I went to a detention center run by a private prison 
corporation, where I met a man who had left his home country with his 
12-year-old daughter, whom he has not seen for the last 5 days. And in 
between 4-inch-thick Plexiglass, behind which I could barely hear what 
he was saying, he told me about the horrific journey that he had 
endured.
  He took off his shirt and showed me the bullet wounds that he had 
suffered that had caused him to make the desperate decision to leave 
his family, his home country, his language, whatever he knew in life, 
and take that 12-year-old girl and try to bring her to safety.
  Again, just as with that mother, he was arrested. He now was in 
criminal proceedings. He would now be moved to Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement's Enforcement Removal Operations, ERO facility, where he 
would be sent back to his country of origin; and he had no clue where 
that 12-year-old girl that he had risked everything for was at that 
moment.
  Thank God for Rochelle Garza, his pro bono attorney, next to whom I 
was sitting, who was doing everything in her power to provide him the 
strength, reminding him to keep his faith and saying that she was going 
to do everything in her effort, in her power to track down that 12-
year-old girl.
  Mr. Speaker, who are we to be doing this right now?
  I know that every single one of us, to a person, if we were standing 
here in this Chamber in 1939 when this country was sending back the St. 
Louis, which had set sail on May 13, 1939, from Hamburg, Germany, with 
more than 900 German Jewish refugees, including children, that all of 
us, to a person, would like to say, if I were here, I would have made 
the case to accept the St. Louis and those 900 passengers and make sure 
that they could find refuge and asylum in this country. Instead, this 
country chose not to, and we sent that ship back to Europe, where more 
than 250 of those 900 passengers would be slaughtered in the Holocaust.
  This is our opportunity to do the right thing. We will be judged by 
our conscience, by our children, and by history. This is our moment of 
truth.
  So I join my friend from California, with every Member in this 
Chamber, Republican and Democrat, in calling upon ourselves, our 
country, to do the right thing at the moment that we still have the 
chance to do the right thing.
  Tomorrow, legislation will be introduced to end the practice of 
family separation. As an original cosponsor of this bill, I am calling 
on my colleagues to rush the decision, the debate, and to pass this 
overwhelmingly so that we can send it to the Senate and, ultimately, to 
the President's desk for his signature and do the right thing while we 
still have the chance to do that.

                              {time}  1815

  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman for his 
comments, and I think he is absolutely correct. History is going to 
judge us, and we are going to look back years from now and say: What 
did we do?
  We have to make sure we are not silent in this very special moment in 
our history. I thank the gentleman for coming.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Smith), my 
good friend.
  Mr. SMITH of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to 
speak on this very important issue. I just want to echo the comments of 
my colleagues about the basic inhumanity the policy the Trump 
administration is perpetrating on these people who are trying to cross 
the border in order to seek asylum, in order to flee violence and 
absolutely unlivable conditions in a variety of countries in Latin 
America.
  To have a policy of separating them from their children is inhumane 
and goes against every basic value that we, as Americans, hold dear. 
The terrible thing about it is, if you listen to the Trump 
administration, that seems to be the idea. Their notion is to make it 
as painful as possible, to discourage these people from wanting to seek 
refuge in the United States.
  Think about how that policy just flips on its head everything that we 
were raised to believe about America. One of the things that makes 
America great is we are made up of people from all over the world, in 
many cases, those who have fled horrific living conditions, to come 
here and build a better life for them and their families. That has made 
us all better. Our country is stronger because we are renewed every 
generation by a new set of immigrants from a variety of places across 
the world.
  The Trump administration is the first administration in the history 
of

[[Page H5147]]

this country to be openly, 100 percent hostile to all immigrants. They 
are trying to make the policy as brutal as possible, because they don't 
understand the benefit of immigration. They seem to think that it is 
hurting us when it is not.
  So they are wrong on that policy and it is a very simple policy to 
fix. In fact, it is interesting. We have heard the President on a 
couple of occasions in the last month say: Oh, not my policy. It is 
because of some law that Congress passed.
  It is possible that he is that ignorant. I doubt it. I actually think 
that he is simply not telling the truth to the American people about a 
policy that his own Attorney General has stated clearly.
  So President Trump, if you are as appalled as you said you were on a 
couple of occasions by this policy, you are the President. Fix it. 
Change it. Stop it.
  In my district at a Federal penitentiary in SeaTac that is supposed 
to be for the most dangerous criminals that have committed Federal 
crimes in the country, there are housed well over 150 women right now, 
many of whom have been separated from their children when they crossed 
the border.
  There is a simple fix to this process. As previous speakers, 
including Mr. O'Rourke, have said, we have an asylum process in this 
country. There is a standard by which people can seek asylum and it can 
be granted or not. We should allow these people coming across this 
border to go through that asylum process.
  This notion that we don't have room is patently ridiculous. Even at 
this point, we have all kinds of jobs going on unfilled in this 
country. But beyond that, our basic humanity should say: these people 
are suffering. We have a law that says we should protect them. Follow 
that law.
  And also, in terms housing them, there are more people than I can 
count, more nonprofit organizations, more religious organizations, 
volunteer organizations, who have said: We will gladly take in these 
immigrants while they await their asylum here.
  There is a very simple solution to this. We don't have to put them in 
the horrible barracks that Mr. O'Rourke described a few minutes ago. 
There are people who will take them, keep them while they go through 
the process. It is very simple.
  Stop the policy of separating children from their mothers and 
fathers. It is wrong. It is inhumane. It is grossly unnecessary. They 
come across the border. We have got a process. Keep them with their 
families. Take advantage of the resources that are available out there 
in the private sector to find them a place to stay with their families 
together, and go through the asylum process.
  Now, I understand the asylum process. Not everybody is going to 
qualify for asylum, and it is possible that some of these people are 
going to have to be sent back to their home country. But at a minimum, 
we can make sure that when they stay here, they stay together as a 
family, and if they are allowed to stay, they stay together as a 
family. If they don't get granted asylum, then they go back as a 
family.
  To separate families--and I want to emphasize this last point before 
I finish--when you listen to the Attorney General, when you listen to 
the administration, they are doing this because it is cruel, because 
they are so opposed to immigration that they want to try to discourage 
people. And that is just a sad commentary on what the United States has 
become under this President. We should do the humane thing.
  Keep families together. Give them their day in court, their day to 
prove that they qualify for asylum, and then you can make the decision 
from there. But don't rip children out of the hands of families. It is 
something that the United States of America should never do.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from California, Mr. Correa, for 
holding this hour, and I thank him for giving me the opportunity to say 
a few words.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman, Mr. Adam Smith, very 
much for coming over and sharing his thoughts. It is very important. 
Again, we cannot forget.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee), 
my good friend and distinguished colleague from the good State of Texas
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Correa from the great State 
of California for taking the time to really allow those of us who are 
in pain to express that pain. I know that my colleagues, each one of 
them--as we say sometimes in our religious institutions--have come in 
their own way.
  I come in a series of ways. One, as a years-long member of the 
Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee of the House Judiciary 
Committee. Being present when we designed a policy for unaccompanied 
children to be protected and to get to their rightful guardian and not 
go into the hands of sex traffickers. That was, in fact, a stated 
policy of the United States for unaccompanied children.
  And in many ways it happens. In the last 4 or 5 years I was at the 
border when the surge of unaccompanied children came because of the 
violence, particularly in Central America. These children came. We knew 
they were coming, and we had standup facilities run by nuns and other 
religious organizations to take unaccompanied children until a 
legitimate legal guardian in the United States could be documented, or 
some other legitimate family documented.
  When I say, documented, documented that they were able to take the 
child and that they were legal to the extent that they were not human 
traffickers.
  That is what policies we had. There is no policy. There is no 
regulation. There is no statute. There is no law. There is no law that 
is allowing the personnel at the border, customs--particularly Border 
Patrol--to snatch, rip, and tear children away from their family. And 
if the distinguished gentleman from California would allow me, I want 
this to be a call to action because there is a legal process or 
legislative process.
  As my previous colleagues have said, many of us are introducing 
legislation. This past weekend I stood with Guatemalan citizens, people 
of Guatemalan descent, and we know for fact that 1 million people have 
been displaced in Guatemala because of the volcano. And I just have to 
say, they will be fleeing, many of them.
  We also know that people have come because they have suffered 
unbelievable, unspeakable gang violence: the decapitating of heads, the 
murder of children. One mother saw two sons murdered and she took the 
last child, boy child, to try to find refuge.
  There are stories like this all over. And so what is happening at the 
border is a nonpolicy that is done only for the vileness of punishment. 
We will punish these people and they will not come anymore.
  As we are on the brink of Father's Day. For those who read the 
Scriptures, they know the story of Moses. Sometimes a parent is so 
desperate that they will either escape with that child or they will 
send that child on. And America has always been a place that has found 
a regular order to deal with this crisis. That is not what is 
happening, and the American people need to understand.
  The courts are overloaded. There are not enough immigration judges. 
There are not enough lawyers. They are taking into court 50 and 70 
people at a time. There are some people who are not speaking Spanish. 
They are speaking an indigenous language, and they do not understand at 
all, except they have come with the right that they have--and the legal 
term is ``credible fear''--they have come to seek asylum.
  And we have for long precedent allowed those who have experienced 
domestic violence--the stories are horrific--or those who have been the 
victim of gangs to come, and that is not happening now.
  So I just want to hold up these pictures that show the anguish of 
parents who could be like any one of us. The anguish of the father, Mr. 
Rodas, whose 5-year-old was snatched from him; the anguish of parents 
who desire to do nothing but to help their child or themselves and 
these children are being snatched away. It is not any immigration 
policy, but a policy to scare, to punish, to frighten, to undermine, 
and to do a vileness.
  Not because America is not good. We are. But it is important that we 
act upon that goodness and that we don't have these series of pictures 
where when this mother turns her back, the child is snatched away.
  So the call to action is to the vastness of our religious community, 
the

[[Page H5148]]

vast television ministry, TBN, The Impact Network, The Word Network, 
Hillsong Church, whatever ones you want to call. In this day of 
worship, all of these leaders should stand and speak out in the loudest 
voice against the unspeakable, nonkindness, ungodly act of snatching 
children away from parents.
  I will be going down to visit and to see a number of centers, and all 
I ask is my Government to be what it is: a loving and nurturing place 
of values and democracy, and a recognition that we are a Nation of 
immigrants and a Nation of laws.
  These people have come to seek asylum. That is a legal process. Some 
may win it and some may not. But I would only say to you that who are 
we, if we cannot, as a mass of Americans, cry out against this 
administration. No matter how much of a cult we think this 
administration has been called, there have to be some good people that 
will recognize that our values, our flag rises above any person. And it 
is important for us to save the lives of these children.
  Mr. Correa, let me thank the gentleman so very much for yielding to 
me.
  Mr. Speaker, Congressman Correa is a valued member of this body and 
one of the outstanding member of the Homeland Security Committee, where 
he Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management 
Efficienty.
  We are here today to call upon the President and the Congress of the 
United States to act without delay regarding the ``zero-tolerance'' 
policy that separates families apprehended on the southern border by 
U.S. Border Patrol.
  As the member of the House Committees on Homeland Security and former 
Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Maritime and 
Border Security, I cannot think of a situation more devastating than 
having the government forcibly separate a parent from her child to a 
place unknown, for a fate uncertain, absent any form of communication.
  Every day, hundreds of persons, ranging from infants and toddlers to 
adolescents and adults, flee violence, oppression, and economic 
desperation from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, seeking safe 
harbor in the United States.
  They are not criminals or terrorists, they are refugees seeking 
asylum.
  The American government must harness all available resources to aid 
those enduring unimaginable suffering, which is why I have called upon 
the President to extend Temporary Protected Status for those affected 
by this volcano, including introducing broader legislation that makes 
Guatemala eligible for TPS.
  While they hope to receive asylum, none of us expected that they 
would be treated as criminals or that their children would be forcibly 
separated from them.
  I cannot think of a situation more devastating than having the 
government forcibly separate a parent from their child to a place 
unknown, for a fate uncertain, absent any form of communication.
  But shamefully that is exactly what is happening under this 
administration.
  Reports indicate that as many as 700 children have been taken from 
adults claiming to be their parents since October 2017, including more 
than 100 children under the age of 4.
  This startling fact comes after Acting Assistant Secretary Steven 
Wagner of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 
testified before the Senate in April 2018 that during a review of more 
than 7,600 unaccompanied immigrant children who had recently arrived 
and been placed with a sponsor, officials at the agency were unable to 
determine the precise whereabouts of 1,475 children.
  This is unconscionable and unacceptable.
  This administration's practice of separating children from their 
parents inexplicably turns accompanied children into unaccompanied 
children, with all of the attendant risks and dangers, including human 
trafficking.
  In 2014, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reported that 
``over a period of 4 months, HHS allegedly placed a number of UACs in 
the hands of a ring of human traffickers who forced them to work on egg 
farms in and around Marion, Ohio.
  The minor victims were forced to work six or seven days a week, 
twelve hours per day.
  The traffickers repeatedly threatened the victims and their families 
with physical harm, and even death, if they did not work or surrender 
their entire paychecks.''
  What is even more reprehensible is to this day, the Trump 
administration maintains that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) 
is not legally responsible for children after they are released from 
ORR care. This line of thinking allows such gross negligence to take 
place in the first place. As the Founder and Chair of the Congressional 
Children's Caucus and as a parent and grandparent, this is 
unacceptable.
  Studies have documented that when young children are traumatically 
removed from their parents, their physical and mental health and well-
being suffers.
  The effects of these traumatic experiences--especially in children 
who have already faced serious adversity--are unlikely to be short-
lived, and can likely last a lifetime.
  This is exacerbated when the child in custody speaks a language that 
is not English or Spanish.
  Although the government has a legal obligation to provide reasonable 
language services to unaccompanied minors, many children arriving to 
the U.S. speak indigenous languages and have little or no translation 
assistance provided by the U.S. government.
  The Trump administration's ``zero-tolerance'' policy does not make 
our nation safer or more secure, nor is it a solution to the problem of 
illegal immigration and refugees seeking asylum. It is, however, 
monstrously cruel, inhumane, and shameful and makes a mockery of 
America's reputation as the most welcoming and generous nation on 
earth.
  United Nations Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani recently 
condemned the Trump administration's treatment of unaccompanied minors 
coming to the United States saying that ``the use of immigration 
detention and family separation as a deterrent runs counter to human 
rights standards and principles''.
  The last time this nation had policies that promoted the forcible 
separation of children from newly arrived persons was slavery: a dark 
chapter in this nation's history that we should not revisit.
  Today, the parents of these thousands of children will not be 
deterred from finding ways to reunite with their children, even 
reentering the United States under the threat of imprisonment.
  It would be unconscionable to prosecute parents under these 
circumstances. There must be strong and aggressive congressional 
oversight of this administration's immigration enforcement.
  The Trump administration's policy should cease and desist 
immediately.
  National Policy regarding immigration legislation should not create 
greater fear for families already traumatized by intolerable conditions 
in their home countries.
  U.S. immigration policy should not deter refugees from seeking asylum 
within our borders.
  We should welcome mothers carrying their babies to a safe haven and 
assure the safety of their children.
  I will soon be introducing legislation prohibiting the separation of 
children from their families absent a health or safety risk. The 
legislation will also provide that these children the right to be 
represented by counsel and that translation services be available at 
all legal proceedings at all stages.
  As we have seen with the recent volcanic activity and earthquakes in 
Guatemala, the United States should be seeking ways to help its 
neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere.
  The American government must harness all available resources to aid 
those enduring unimaginable suffering, which is why I have called upon 
the President to extend Temporary Protected Status for those affected 
by this volcano.
  In the coming days, I will also be introducing broader legislation 
that makes Guatemala eligible for TPS, so that those who fled this 
horror, and other mainstays of the world--like a murder rate which is 
among the highest in the country, and rampant gang violence--may have 
hope to realize their American dream.''
  The Trump administration is utterly failing in its basic duty to 
treat all persons with dignity and compassion.
  Rather, it is making a mockery of our national values and reputation 
as a champion of human rights.
  This crisis is not just an immigration matter, nor is it just a 
foreign policy matter.
  It is a humanitarian crisis, executed by an administration that 
purports to be the champion of `family values' but whose actions do not 
actually value families.
  We are a great country with a long and noble tradition of providing 
sanctuary to the persecuted and oppressed. And it is in that spirit 
that we should act. We can do it; after all, we are Americans.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague Congresswoman Jackson 
Lee, for her comments.
  I agree with her. This is a call to action. At this moment in 
history, we cannot be silent. At this moment in history, we cannot look 
away. And in this moment of history, we cannot ignore what we know is 
clearly going on around us. I thank the gentlewoman for her comments.
  Mr. Speaker, I now yield to Mr. Joaquin Castro, my good friend and 
distinguished colleague from Texas.
  Mr. CASTRO of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Correa for 
yielding.

[[Page H5149]]

  I think as Americans learned, mostly over the last few weeks, that 
young children were being separated from their mothers and fathers at 
the U.S.-Mexico border, and now have heard that the Trump 
administration is proposing to put these young children who have been 
separated from their parents in tent camps on military bases in Texas 
and in other places, it makes people wonder whether the Nation has lost 
its moral compass under this administration.
  Just because somebody crosses a border or presents themselves at a 
border, does not make them nonhuman.

                              {time}  1830

  The United States is a nation, if anything, that stands for and has 
stood for freedom, for human rights, and for democracy.
  How can we carry that mantle when we refuse to treat people like 
human beings, especially young children?
  This has become standard government policy under the Trump 
administration. It is leaving lasting trauma--emotional, mental, and 
physical trauma--to these young kids.
  We should be able to enforce our immigration laws and still respect 
people's humanity. So I have been encouraged to see so many Americans 
speak up against this abhorrent policy. So many Americans from every 
corner of this Nation, every city and every part, have spoken up 
against this policy.
  Because this Nation has stood as a moral beacon around the world, it 
was quite remarkable recently when the United Nations, which the United 
States hosts in New York City and for which the United States is the 
largest funder, condemned our Nation for separating kids from their 
families and their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. I ask us to think 
about that and its significance.
  If we can't stop these kinds of things from happening in the United 
States, then I don't know that we can stop them from happening anywhere 
in the world. This is not only a call to conscience, it is a call to 
respect our Constitution, and it is a call that is not Republican or 
Democrat or liberal or conservative but American. It is a call for 
respect of human dignity.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Correa for organizing this 
discussion today and for all of his work on this issue.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to refrain from 
engaging in personalities toward the President.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Castro 
from the good State of Texas, for his comments.
  Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to address this most 
important issue of asylum and this most important issue of children 
seeking asylum in this great country of ours.
  We have to remember who this country is. We have to remember who we 
are as a people. We are all immigrants in this country. Except if you 
are native-born, Native American, you are not. But 99.9 percent of us 
were all immigrants. We all came to this country, our forefathers came 
to this country seeking a better life, seeking better opportunities, 
and seeking to run away from tyranny that was provided to them by other 
countries.
  Today, I hope that the people who are watching and the people who are 
listening understand what is at stake today. We cannot look away. We 
cannot ignore what is going on.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to direct their remarks 
to the Chair.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and 
fellow member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman 
Lou Correa, for leading tonight's special order regarding the need to 
protect immigrant children and families from the cruel and punitive 
policies adopted by the Trump Administration.
  Over the past several months, the Trump Administration has engaged in 
the barbaric activity of separating migrant children from their parents 
to instill fear and deter families from seeking legal protection in the 
United States. These families are fleeing dangerous and violent 
situations in their home countries--seeking safety in the United 
States--only to have their children taken away from them. In many 
situations, the parents are not told where their children are or when 
they will be reunited.
  We have laws in place so that people fleeing dangerous situations can 
request protection and humanitarian relief. We should open our arms to 
these families, not tear them apart and put them in jail.
  Earlier this year, I was proud to lead all 12 of Democrats on the 
Committee on Homeland Security, as well as 63 of our Democratic 
colleagues, in sending a letter to Secretary Nielsen strongly opposing 
the practice of separating migrant parents from their children at the 
border. I continue to condemn this practice by the Trump 
Administration. A secure border and effective immigration system is 
important. The use of these tactics to deter migration is not only 
ineffective, but also un-American. I urge my colleagues to join me in 
speaking out against this unjust and inhumane policy.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, during a 2-week 
period in May, 658 immigrant children were separated from their 
families by Customs and Border Patrol agents at our southern border. 
The number of immigrant children held in custody by the United States 
government is now 10,773, an increase of 21% since the end of April. 
Sadly, this practice of family separation continues to be applied by 
the Trump administration today. It must be stopped immediately.
  The high majority of families crossing our southern border come from 
Central America, where rampant violence threatens the lives of women 
and children in particular. These families come to the United States in 
hopes of finding safety. Instead, this inhumane policy enforced by the 
Trump administration ensures that parents and children will face 
additional psychological and emotional trauma.
  Separation from parents is particularly damaging for young children, 
who have already endured a long and dangerous journey from their points 
of origin. Aside from the obvious emotional toll of parental 
separation, a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union 
last month details pervasive abuse of unaccompanied children by the 
Customs and Border Protection agency. Instances of this abuse include 
CBP officials repeatedly punching a child's head, verbally abusing 
detained children, and denying a pregnant minor medical care, which 
resulted in a stillbirth.
  Congress must come together to end the Trump administration's 
practice and to ensure that these migrants are treated humanely. 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recent announcement that this 
administration will not grant asylum to victims of domestic and gang 
violence will only exacerbate the problems these families face, and at 
the very least, we must ensure that they are able to stay together as 
they face their uncertain futures.
  Mr. Speaker, no matter where they come from, parents and children 
belong together, Congress must use its legislative authority to prevent 
the Trump administration from ripping them apart.
  Mr. VELA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express grave concern about 
the acceleration of the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico 
border due to the Trump Administration's ``zero tolerance'' policy 
toward border crossers. According to Reuters, more than 1,800 families 
have been separated from their children in the periods between October 
2016 and February 2018.
  Since then, the number has dramatically increased. Recent testimony 
from CBP officials shows that in the two weeks following Attorney 
General Jeff Sessions' May 7th announcement of the policy, 638 adults 
with 658 children were placed in the prosecution process, effectively 
separating them from their children for an indefinite time period. In 
McAllen, Texas alone, federal defenders counted 421 immigrant parents 
coming through the court room in the period between May 21st and June 
5th. This number is alarming and disgraceful.
  While their parents are prosecuted, children are placed in Office of 
Refugee Resettlement (ORR) contract facilities like Southwest Key in 
Brownsville, Texas, an old Wal-Mart now being used to house children 
detainees. Several reports indicate that children in CBP custody are 
held in kennel-like cages and are being verbally, emotionally, 
physically, and sexually mistreated. We do not know the exact number of 
children being held, what they are doing with them inside, or how long 
these children remain ``in custody'' before they are able to see their 
parents. What we do know is that allowing children to be ripped from 
their families is a terrible policy that the United Nations has already 
explicitly condemned.
  The Trump Administration, through their own volition, decided that it 
is in the national interest of the United States to cause such pain and 
suffering. Multiple studies have shown that separating children from 
their families is a traumatizing experience with lifelong consequences. 
To be clear Mr. Speaker, there is no law that requires families to be 
torn apart. There is no law that requires that a child go through such 
a traumatizing experience. What these children are going through is 
reprehensible, unacceptable, and in blatant disregard to the values of 
these United States.
  Our country was founded on the notion that all peoples are worthy of 
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Immigrants come to this

[[Page H5150]]

country searching and hoping to fulfill the American Dream. Many 
immigrants risk their lives fleeing their countries plagued with 
violence. It is repugnant that the Trump Administration continues to 
torment such vulnerable individuals, particularly toddlers, in such an 
atrocious manner.
  As the world's leading democracy, we should strive to protect human 
rights, regardless of one's citizenship or place of origin. Our 
nation's child welfare laws have long recognized family unity as an 
essential human right. As such, I joined with Homeland Security 
Committee Ranking Member Bennie Thompson to demand information Customs 
and Border Protection and the Department of Health and Human Services 
about the Administration's de facto policy of separating families at 
the border. We need answers and every single day that passes, more 
families face the risk of being separated from their loved one.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in seeking answers from this 
Administration. We cannot let these voices go unheard. These children 
are suffering and are in desperate need of our support.
  Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time

                          ____________________