tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN June 20, 2018 5:29pm-8:49pm EDT
critical to ensuring oversight and accountability for the department of veterans affairs. what this amendment does and the reason i support it is it ensures the inspector general's office can fully vette, investigate, and examine the cases presented to them by making certain they have access to the necessary records and documentation within the department of veterans affairs. to arrive at the truth, the inspector general must have all the information associated with any given situation to determine what is accurate and who should be held accountable. mr. president, i also want to express my pleasure in speaking today in regards to something that i've long advocated for and i complement the three chair men and women who are here in support of the appropriation bills that they have jurisdiction, but we need regular order. and this return to regular order for consideration of the fy-2019 appropriations process is
important to the united states senate, but more importantly, it's valuable to the united states, and valuable to my constituents in kansas. our duty is to fund the federal government in a responsible way that will wisely utilize every taxpayer dollar which requires an ability to prioritize federal spending. when we return to regular order we can in -- better influence bureau chiefs, agency heads, and others because we can influence the decisions they make because of the power of the purse string. on the appropriation bills we're debating this week, i want to call attention to milcon v.a. appropriations bill, and the great work that senator boozman and senator schatz have achieved as chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee. i'm very familiar with their staff and i compliment them on their work. this bill provides an additional
$# billion in physical -- $1 billion in fiscal year 2019 for v.a. to have better access to care in the community. this provides $11 billion in advanced appropriation ps for fiscal year 2020. we have worked hard to provide services in the community for veterans who either can't get the service or live such a distance from the v.a. or when it's in now when it's in their best interest to have care in their community and it's necessary to provide the funding to accomplish that. we have an opportunity to provide veterans and the v.a. with appropriations for 2019 that builds on the momentum that the v.a. missions act provides. i want to make sure we do the right things because i want the v.a. mission act to work. on june 6, we paid tribute to one of our nation's heroes who
bravely stormed the beaches of normandy in november of 1944. in addition two weeks ago, june 6, senator boozman and many of my colleagues were at the white house when he signed the v.a. mission act into law. the v.a. mission act represents a significant achievement in providing our nation's veterans with the access to the care that they are entitled to and that they deserve. just as i urge my colleagues to support that v.a. mission act, i call on my colleagues to support the implementation of those reforms contained in that legislation. it is critical that we do so to make certain that veterans can rely on community care programs that meet their needs and offer access to the care they deserve. the mission act delivers several critical reforms that the funding provided in this bill will enable the v.a. to carry out and build on.
particularly helpful for the appropriations process, it requires the department to submit routine strategic plans to congress and develop a multiyear budget process to better forecasts future needs and requirements. it mandates market area assessments to better understand what communities and local v.a.'s are able to offer their veterans. allowing the v.a. and congress to better identify gaps that require more resources to be filled and represent redunneddances, in other words, to make sure that we don't spend the money where they are not. we are often -- we have been here on the floor often, and i have spoken about this numerous times, unfortunately, it's had to require our attention numerous times, the v.a. has been unable to estimate how much money they will need to provide care in community through the choice act and this legislation
requires them to a pro bcey which they can accurately forecasts those needs, particularly when it comes to that care in the community. i have long believed that when it comes to the v.a., it isn't a lack of funds that is the problem. in fact, we have consistently, and this bill does it again, increased their budget, but instead it's a problem on how they spend the funds that are appropriated to them, how they manage those funds and how the department of veterans' affairs is led. i'm confident that reforms like those included in the mission act will enable the v.a. to better steward taxpayer funds while also enabling them to carry out their mission with veterans with the care and benefits they are entitled to through consistent, stable budgeting. as the v.a. mission act and the new community care act is implemented over the next year,
it is important that third-party administrators -- there's a couple of administration entities that manage the community care program, choice, in its old days for the v.a. they manage a network of community providers that serve veterans. continuity of care is paramount to the v.a.'s community care program and we must ensure the v.a. maintains access by utilizing this during the implementation stage of these reforms. i want to remind my colleagues that the v.a. is not ready to operate a health network themselves. our urgency to fund the choice program during shortfalls in the past was to make sure that network continuedor support veterans and those third-party administrators, the services they provide. i do not believe the v.a. is capable of building or replicating those networks that
currently exist. and the contract with those third-party administrator is terminated on june 30th, and we need assurance that the department of veterans' affairs has -- has a plan to make sure thoars contracts are extended so that -- those contracts are extended so that care toes not lapse -- does not happens. we need to make sure that we ready the v.a. health care system. any distraction from cleating -- completing this mission is unfair to veterans who will benefit from it and puts the community care program at risk. so our work on the mission be act and a community care program is in jeopardy if the department of veterans' affairs declines or is unable to renew contracts to keep the network in place. we are at the cusp of real reform and transformation at the
v.a. that will benefit veterans and their families for decades to come. i can think of no greater obligation during this year's appropriations process than assuring veterans and the programs that serve them are resourced to deliver the care and benefits that they deserve. mr. president, i thank the chairman, senator boozman, the ranking member, senator schatz, and their staff for their expertise and their work in making sure the appropriations process lends its support to the mission act, the john mccain mission act that we enacted in the senate and was signed by the president now just a few short days ago. i yield the floor.
mr. brown: we've seen in our own country over the past few days shocking and heartbreaking, they don't reflect our values as a nation. i'm glad the president is reversing course. i'm glad he's signing something, putting a stop to his administration's cruel, pointless, and heartless policy of separating children from their parents at the border. that's just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to undo the damage that the president's policy has inflicted on these children and to begin to create a more human and humane immigration solution. any parent can tell you that being separated from a child is one of the worst things you can imagine. we've seen pictures and heard
the sounds of crying children, some still in diapers. when i first heard that audio clip, i think all of us remember the first time we heard it, when we first heard that audio clip of children screaming and crying for their parents, i almost couldn't listen to it. as an american, as a human being, a as grandfather and father, it was revolting. it should be hard to l to. we should recoil at those terrible sounds. the second it is not heard, the second we shrug our shoulders and do nothing at the sound of little children wailing, that's the second we lose our humanity. it is hard for us to listen to -- fits a hard for us to listen to, if it makes us uncomfortable, that's nothing, that's nothing compared to what it must mean and what if must feel like and what those parents are going through. yesterday the administration reported that some 2,300 -- 2,300 children were taken from their parents at the border in just a single month.
think about -- everybody in this body has gone to a school and probably everybody in this body has gone to a grade school to visit. and remember what it's like to walk down the hall or walk into a gym or walk into a classroom and see dozens or even hundreds of children. think about -- think about that, though. thinking of walking into a school and seeing happy children and lots of them, dozens of children singing or talking or playing on the play if ground and now think of these 2,300 children that were taken from their partners at a border -- at the border in a single month, from may 5 to june 9, five weeks, 60 kids every single day on the average. 60 kids yesterday, 60 kids the day before, 60 kids the day before that. we don't know how many since june 9. but from may 5 to june 9, 60 kids every single day. signing something today, clearly the president did the right thing. clearly the president did it
under great political pressure. clearly the president never admitted he was wrong about it. that's not something that, unlike most human beings i know, he would do. but signing something today doesn't magically reunite those families overnight. it is not like these children now, as you've watched -- many of my colleagues watch children at a grade school run out to the playground when their dad visits. these aren't kids that won't magically reunite with their families overnight. signing this order that the president clearly oh, so reluctantly signed won't undo the trauma those children endured. we still don't have good answers to what's happened to those kids, what he kinds of conditions they're living under. we heard about siblings being ripped from their parents, told they can't hug each other, staff being told they can't comfort these children by touching and comforting them. imagine that. taken away from your mother. you're not even allowed to comfort her.
you're just supposed to let her scream. that's inhumane, un-american, counter to everything most of us -- at least in this body, if not the white house -- have been taught. dr. colleen craft, the current president of the american academy of pediatrics, former of cincinnati's children in my time. she warn that the toxic stress can slow down brain development. we called it a form of child abuse. today i demanded answers from the secretary of health and human services, the secretary of homeland security about what they're doing to care for the mental, physical, and pee motional well-being of the thousands of traumaized children in their custody. this chapter isn't closed. you don't say, thank you, mr. president, for finally doing the right thing. everything is fine. we've got to track those kids. there's been two weeks since that period. we've got find those children, we've got to comfort them,
examine them, pediatricians warning that this is some kind of child abuse because it can slow down brain development. these children have already seen horrors that the rest of us can't imagine. some of these parents are seeking asylum in america, fleeing violence, just looking for a safe place for their children. who knows how many of these children already were traumatized because they lived in a war zone, they lived in an area with all kinds of violence, from drug wars -- they're pulled out of that, they're traveling with almost nothing but the clothes on their back and very little with one or both parents coming north, not knowing what's going to happen each day, seeing things that almost none of us growing up have seen, then they're separated from their partners at the border. the way we keep our children h. borders safe is by going after criminals, not by turning our backs on children and parents. we have a lot of work to do to fix our immigration s but
tearing families apart won't solve anything. we need to work in a bipartisan solution that recognizes that we aren't going to deport 13 million people that are already here. they can earn citizen independent if they follow the law and pay taxes. my son-in-law lives in cranston, rhode island, the boyhood home of our colleague senator jack reed. he was 10 years old, maybe 11 years old. he dime this country, his mother was a journalist. she had her life threatened as agonallist in el salvador. she fled their country to come to our country, the parents then moved to new york -- came to new york to come to our country. we embrace people like that who were refugees, whose lives we could save and who could contribute so much to our country, as alejandro has.
he is the father of two of our grandchildren now. we're a country of values that protects people, we're a haven for so many people. we've made a difference in so many lives because of who we are and what our values are. surely it is a complicated issue, but the administration has only made it so much worse. they've added the challenge of undoing the damage they've done and working to get -- in working to get those children back to their partners and hoping to make them whole. i hope this isn't just a one-step pullback by the president and then more attacks on immigrants, more attacks on chin. we have a lot of work to do to pick up the pieces. the administration needs to provide answers immediately as to how it is going to make that happen and end the cries of these children are comforting words and much more. i want to close with this story. i got a message on facebook from an owe hian. he had -- from an ohioan. he had heard the tragic story of a 10-year-old with down's
syndrome reportedly separated from their parents at the border. that's elbaradeiic. this he ohio -- that's barbaric. this ohioan wanted to take in this little girl. imagine that. those are the values of ohioans. those are the values of north carolinians and those are the values of americans. it's not the values of a president who out of whatever motive has separated these families. that's the state and the country that i love, this family that wrote to us. i know there are so many more americans out there who feel the same way, who practice compassion, whose hearts break for these children. it's time for their government to step up and reflect those values of this great country. mr. president, i ask that the following words be inserted in a different place in the "congressional record."
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: last year i met an ohio veteran from mason, ohio, james powers. he brought to my attention a problem that he was having with the vas accounting miss stalks. our conversation led to a bill that i introduced with senator tester and senator boozman, an arkansas republican, the bipartisan veterans debt service act. both serve with me on the veterans' committee. both senators know how v.a. overpayment and debt affect veterans every day. james retired two years ago but he noticed that the army was continuing to pay him both active duty salary and retirement benefits. he caught the mistake. james caught the mistake. he did the honorable thing. he notified the v.a. they were overpaying him. but the v.a. continued to overpay him and then they charged him twice to recoup the overpayments and they garnished his benefits. the staff in my office work with the v.a. to resolve james'
issues but this should have never happened in the first place. it is fixed now. he had to go through that. to his credit, to james' correction he wanted to make sure his experience, which was uncomfortable or worse at times, would change policy and affect future veterans so they wouldn't have to go through this, which is why i admire him so much. this story is too common. in 23016 the -- in to-to-2016, the v.a. issued some overpayment notices. the agency tries to withhold money to get some or all of the distant payments that veterans have earned. our bill would ban the v.a. from charging veterans for its own mistaken overpayments. it should protect veterans who depend on their benefits by capping the amount the v.a. can deduct from the veterans' monthly payment at 25%. it would ban the v.a. from
collecting debts more than five years old. our veterans sacrifice so much already to serve our country. i am ape the first ohioan to serve a full term. i have been otocommittee 12 years, the veterans' committee. and i'm on that committee because we should serve those who serve us. we should protect those who protect us. they shouldn't be -- the veterans shouldn't be paying for the mistakes of the agency that's supposed to serve them. unfortunately, our bill wasn't included in the defense authorization act last week, so instead we have an amendment to the v.a.-milcon bill to require the v.a. to track these overpayments and report to congress on the scope of the v.a. debt. we'll continue to push for the tester-boozman bill, but i hope all my colleagues will join me in supporting this bipartisan, commonsense step towardisming v.a. overpayment and debt for america's veterans. and i yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on national amendment 29010 to h.r. 5985, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2019, signed by 17 senators as follows -- the presiding officer: i ask that the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i send a cloture motion to the deck for the bill h.r. 5895. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: cloture motion: we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on calendar number 449, h.r. 5 l 95, an act making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies four the fiscal year year ending september 30, 2019 and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators as follows -- the presiding officer: i ask -- mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the names be waived.
officer without objection. mr. mcconnell: ask consent that the mandatory quorum calls be waterboarded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i filed cloture but we anticipate that will not be necessary and weep be i am an to vitiate the cloture motion tomorrow. because we anticipate being able to process additional amendments throughout the day and wrap the bill up sometime tomorrow afternoon. but there will be an opportunity during the day to continue to process amendments and we should be able to finish the bill, as i said, this week without resorting to cloture. i ask unanimous consent that the senate be in a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the appointment at the desk appear separately in the record as if made by the chair. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. mcconnell: i understand there are two bills at the desk and i ask for a first reading en bloc. the presiding officer: the clerk read the titles for the first time. the clerk: s. 3093, bill to amend the immigration and nationality act to address the prokive custody of alien children accompanied by parents and for other purposes. sed 3100, a bill to establish the mountains to sound greenaway national heritage area in the state of washington. mr. mcconnell: i now ask for a second reading and object to my own request all en bloc. the presiding officer: objection having been heard, the bill will receive their second reading on the next legislative day. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the senate now proceed to the en bloc consideration of the following senate senate resolutions which were submitted earlier today, s. res. 53, s. res. 54, and s. res. 555. the presiding officer:
thereabouts to protect to the measure en bloc? without objection. the senate will proceed to the measures en bloc. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the committee on banking, housing, and urban development be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 770 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 770, an act to require the secretary of the treasury to mintz coins in recognition of american innovation and significant innovation and pioneering efforts of individuals or groups from each of the 50 states and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: there objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the committee. dish to the measure. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the murphy amendment at the desk be
considered and agreed to understand at bill be considered read a third time. the presiding officer: there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: know of no further debate on the bill. the presiding officer: is there further debate? hearing none, the question is on the passage of the bill as amended. all in favor say aye. those opposed, say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the bill as amed is passed. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:45 a.m. thursday, june 21. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, and morning business be closed. finally, i ask that following leader remarks, the senate resume consideration of
h.r. 5895. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. mcconnell: so if there is no further business to come before the senate, i ask it stand adjourned under the previous order following the remarks of our democratic colleagues. the presiding offic: witht obio mr. merkley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, many members of the democratic caucus are coming down to the floor to speak to the abomination of a policy of separating children from their parents when people are seeking asylum in the united states of america, and the senator from minnesota is going to speak first, followed by the senator from hawaii, the senator from hawaii had and then the senator from washington followed by the senator from illinois. i yield to my colleague. ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i want to thank
senator merkley, the senator from oregon, for his leadership, his calling atten to the tragedies that have been going on right on our border, and i rise today to join my colleagues to express my deep concern about the policy that was adopted by this administration to separate families at the border. what we have seen over the past several days and weeks and actually months is simply unacceptable. and while the president has now recognized publicly that we should not be taking children from their parents, this should not be happening in our country. according to the department of homeland security, 2,042 children are separated separater children between may 5 and june 9. 9 pace of these separations was increasing with nearly 70 children being taken from their parents up until today and being kept in facilities that are increasingly overcrowded.
the american medical association, american academy of pediatrics having expressed their opposition. they said that this type of family separation does irreparable harm to children. the president of the american academy of pediatrics, who traveled to the border, called it a form of child abuse. it is not just the medical groups. a bipartisan group of 75 former u.s. attorneys called on the administration to end its policy. the group included a former republican u.s. attorney under both president bushes, tom heckelfinger from the state of minnesota. their administration stated that the policy was a radical departure from previous justice department policy and that it's danger you expensive and inconsistent with the values of the institution in which they served. all five first ladies have been critical and as we know probably the woman who said it best was first lady laura bush who said
this the -- she said the zero tolerance policy is cruel, it is immoral, and it breaks my heart. i think that says it all. i am glad that several of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have recently stood up and said that they disagree with this policy, but to quote what senator graham said, president trump could stop this policy with a phone call. and the weeks went by and the families kept getting separated. and i am pleased that senator feinstein is leading a bill, the keep families together act. i was an original cosponsor of this bill. but i do want to note that we do not need legislation to stop the separation of children and their parents. and while i am still reviewing this executive order, i will note that it still raises serious issues, including with respect to the indefinite detention of children and their families and there are major questions about the order.
that being said, action on this was necessary and now we must move forward. i see senator durbin, the se from illinois here, who has given so many speeches about dreamers. i don't think we could even count them. we have more issues for this country beside the one that has just broken the hearts of americans. we have people in temporary status that are sitting in minnesota when they don't know if they will be deported from this country when they have been here for decades working in our hospitals. we have dreamers who came to this country through no fault of their own. we have immigrants that love this country, that want to be citizens here and this senate gave them a path to citizen in a vote in this very chamber, a path to citizenship years ago and that bill never advanced in the house. we can do that again. if there is any silver lining, i hope that it will the american people again on the fact that this is a country of immigrants
and that immigrants do not diminish america. immigrants are america. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: i want to thank senator merkley of oregon for his leadership and my other colleagues who are coming to the floor this afternoon. mr. president, like so many people across the country, i have been deeply affected by what's happening on our southern border. children are being ripped away from their parents, placed into mass detention, deprived of adequate legal counsel and isolated from everyone they've ever known. millions of people are rising up as sorrow and horror over what's happening and with good reason. the president of the united states and this administration are playing games with the lives of these innocent children. and when confronted, they hide behind excuses that they're just
following the law. this is just another lie from a president and an administration that have institutionalized lying to justify their unconscionable policies. there is nothing in the law that requires a zero tolerance approach at the border. it was a choice that donald trump and his administration made. and these children are suffering the consequences. the president's actions are unnecessary and cruel, but they aren't particularly surprising coming from him. on issue after issue, donald trump creates a crisis through his own actions, blames others for what's happening, and uses the ensuing chaos to demand a legislative solution that often harms even more people. it's up to each of us and to the millions of americans outraged by his actions to stand up, fight back, and demand action. this action remains urgent even
after the president announced earlier today that he would use his executive authority to end family separation at the border. this executive order just creates an entirely new problem. it does not end zero tolerance and it does not end indefinite detention. it only means children are going to be incarcerated together with their parents. this is still unacceptable, and echoes back to one of the darkest periods in our history when during world war ii the u.s. government incarcerated 120,000 japanese americans. this time we are incarcerating non-americans misses the point. due process applies to everyone, everyone on american soil. the president's order also instructs the attorney general to challenge the flores settlement which sets national standards for humane treatment
of children in immigration detention and assures their prompt release. the elimination of these national standards would have profoundly negative consequences for thousands of children every year and is yet another demonstration of the cruelty with which this administration treats immigrants to our country. the president has also hinted that legislation will accompany his executive action. any legislative solution must result in less chaos and more justice for these children and their families. congress certainly has a responsibility to repair our broken immigration system, and we try hard in 2013 with months of work and bipartisan compromise. but we cannot and should not enact a patchwork solution that enshrines donald trump's hatred and fear of immigrants into law. we need to think through the inevitable consequences of our
policies and propose legislation that will actually help these families and their children. this approach stands in stark contrast to our president and an administration that rarely think things through. they never stop to consider the consequences of their actions. instead, instead of being ashamed about this, the president appears to take pleasure in the chaos he sows. but this chaos causes real damage to real people. these misguided, shoot-from-the-hip decisions of his have already caused significant harm to thousands of children who will face a lifetime of trauma after being separated from their parents. let me tell you a story. it's one i haven't told very often because it's difficult to talk about. i often speak about my own immigrant experience of coming to this country when i was seven years old with my mom and my
older brother roy. mom was escaping an abusive marrgert a new life for us. mom brought us two older kids with her leaving my three-year-old younger brother behind in japan because we were old enough to go to school. and at seven and tphaoeupbs year old we could look after ourselves while she was at work supporting us. my younger brother left back in japan never really recovered from the trauma of his separation from his mother and his siblings. my mother always had deep sorrow about having to leave her baby behind. we finally reunited almost three years later. what's happening to these children feels personal to me.
like so many people, i found my anger and emotion about this issue aren't far below the surface for me. i'm very concerned about what will happen to these 2,400 children who have already been separated from their parents. these children have already been traumatized. yet the president's executive order does not prioritize reuniting these children with their parents. years from now stories will be written about this dark moment in our nation's history and what happened to these children. people will judge what we did and how we responded. i will continue to fight against this president's reprehensible actions that dehumanize immigrants, tear families apart
and undermine our country's moral leadership. i call on all my colleagues, especially those on the other side of the aisle, to join us in this fight. i yield the floor. mrs. murray: i want to thank my colleague from hawaii for sharing her personal experience of how that felt, because that is so important for all of us to hear. and i want to thank the senator from oregon and all the senators who are out here tonight to speak on this. now i may only be one person, but today i bring to the floor of the united states senate the outrage, the pain, and the frustration of millions of people in my home state of washington and across the country who see what president trump has been doing on our southern border, who have been
watching the pain that's forced family separation has caused so many innocent children who have begged the president to pick up the phone, sign a piece of paper, do whatever it takes to make it stop, who have refused to be silenced as president trump carries out his hateful and divisive attacks on immigrants. and who heard a recording with desperate cries of children calling for their parents. when i heard that, my heart stopped, like every mom, like every human being, i just wanted to reach out and comfort that child. and i could only think how his mother felt because i assure you whether she was in that room, a room 100 miles away or a room 3,000 miles away, like every mom, she heard her cry too and her heart was broken. and while today we saw president trump change his story about
whether he did in fact have the ability to make it stop, there's a lot of questions that remain, questions that i actuay and others have been asking the trump administration for weeks that have gone unanswered, like exactly how these parents are being informed about their children's safety. where are they? where are they being located? when will they be reunited? and those are just a few. there are more. president trump says the executive order stops the separation. does that mean starting today? next month? when? what about the thousands of children who have been removed, will they ever see their parents again? when? where? how? i've not gotten answers from the secretary of the health azar whose department should be focused on families' health and well-being but has instead spent that time complicit in a policy of separating families and
traumatizing parents and children alike. even as experts like the president of the american academy of pediatrics said the practice of intentionally inflicting trauma on young children is child abuse. but, mr. president, while it's a good thing president trump dialed back his systematic child abuse, it is not enough. we're not going to say everything is okay now. we're not going to stay quiet. because while we are still digging into this new executive order, here's what we do know right now. if this is implemented, there will continue to be zero tolerance for all asylum seekers, including domestic violence survivors, a system of locking up children by the thousands and all carried out in our great country's name. mr. president, i just read the story of a woman named blanca who left el salvador after she received threats on her
eight-year-old son's life. she took those threats seriously, she said. why? because another family member had already been kidnapped. and as blanca said, when the extortionists don't get their money, they kill people. so blanca left everything behind to seek safety for her son. two months ago she arrived at the u.s. border to seek asylum. blanca says that was the last time she saw or talked to her son abel, whose last words to her were, quote, mom, don't leave me. that's the last thing she's heard. blanca now sits in a federal detention center in seatac in washington state where she told her story through tears to an a.p. reporter. her son, she's been told is in custody in upstate new york. that is 3,000 miles away from her. and she doesn't know when or if she's ever going to see him again. mr. president, blanca's story is
horrifying. it is sad. unfortunately, it is not unique. she is one of thousands of parents and children who fled violence and persecution only to find a new nightmare upon arrival in the united states of america. a nightmare caused deliberately for no good reason by president trump who has chosen to scapegoat asylum seekers and put their children into detention centers for an undetermined amount of time. we are better than this. we must be better than this. turning children into bargaining chips or leverage points or deterrents, that kind of cruelty should not be an option in this great nation. in recent days my office has been flooded with thousands of calls and e-mails and letters from moms and dads and grandmothers and grandfathers, people from all walks of life, from every community i represent who are angry at the president's
new zero tolerance policy and who are horrified by these families who are being ripped apart. so i know i've not been alone. if we can find hope in one thing, it is knowing that all those calls and e-mails and letters, all of that outcry got through to the president to change course on one of his most heartless policieset. but we cannot let up now. president trump has claimed for days he needed congressional action to do anything at all. today he proved that to be simply untrue. so now we know president trump will bow to the stern pressure of a strong moral movement. families in washington state and every state across the nation are continuing to demand action. and i'm going to keep working to make sure their voices are heard for the sake of so many who seek refuge in our great country and those who believe in the kindness and respect and compassion that does make this
country great. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: first he came for the dreamers. in september of last year president trump announced that he was going to abolish the daca program, a program, an executive order by president obama that protected 790,000 young people who came forward, registered with the federal government, paid a $500 filing fee, went through an extensive criminal background check, proved that they had completed at least a level of education, made it clear that they were no threat to this country. and for that, they were allowed, under the executive daca order, to live in the united states without fear of deportation for two years at a time renewable, and to work in this country.
so today 790,000 young people across america, because of the action of president trump last september%, have only the protection of a court order that saves them from being deported, which allows them to continue to work, which allows them to renew their daca status. if that court decision changes in a matter of days, weeks, or months, their protection disappears and clearly this president could care less. first he came for the dreamers and then on may 1, with the zero tolerance policy, he came for the children, the infants, the toddlers, the little boys and girls who accompanied their
parents to the border of the united states. president trump did something that the most americans, two out of three, find not only objectionable but unimaginable. this president decided as a matter of policy, a get-tough policy toward immigration, that he would take children, babies, infants away from their parents. so far 2,400, we believe, have been taken this way. what has tapped to them -- what has happened to them, we don't know. you see, in this great country of america, this transparent and open democracy, the trump administration will not allow any type of visits by members of congress, members of the press to see exactly what's happening with these children. oh, a few photos have made it out showing these kids being held in cages.
kids in cages. that's the trump approach when it comes to immigration, and the recording that came out of the cries of these children when they were being separated from their mothers and their parents. the report of a father who had his son yanked out of his arms and in desperation went to his jail cell and committed suicide. that is the reality of this trump policy. and he's been unapologetic. from where he's standing with the inspiration of stephen miller, his advisor and expert on immigration, getting tough is the only answer, the deterrent, putting pressure on congress to pass the law this president demands, this ridiculous $25 billion wall that he wants to build on our border with mexico. so what has happened? people have spoken out, and i want to thank those republicans who had the courage to stand up and speak out.
49 democratic senators joined senator feinstein in making it clear that we were prepared, if necessary, to pass legislation to solve this problem. some republican senators have said the same, that this problem -- or this approach is unacceptable and reprehensible. and the first ladies of the united states, including laura bush who was quoted earlier by senator klobuchar, have just been amazing. they've come forward to let us know hon a bipartisan basis that what president donald trump is doing with children is not only un-american, it is inhumane, by any standard. treating children this way is something that can have long-term trauma on individuals. you heard our colleague, senator hirono. she gave an emotional moment in the senate here and i've never seen that before from her, and talked about her family separation and what it meant to her brother and her mom. that's the reality of life.
it's a reality this president has ignored. well, today after days and weeks of objections from all across thunited states, the president said he would respond to the situation that he created with an executive order. i have it in my hand. it's not that long. three pages. i read it closely. i read it carefully. and i will tell you, this executive order by this president does not solve the crisis that he created. the order doubles down on the president trump-attorney general sessions-stephen miller policy that created this policy of separating children and families. the order provides no guarantee that families will actually be kept together. here is what the language says. it just says the administration will try, quote, to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families
together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources, end of quote from the president's executive order. that is no guarantee that these families will be kept together. the order does nothing, speaks not a word to uniting the 2,400 children who have been separated from their families, not one word in there. for goodness sakes, that's where the president should start with his executive order, ordering his agencies to reunite these families as quickly as possible so that children who are going through the trauma of this separation will finally have a chance to see their parents again. the order provides for -- this is the president's order issued today -- provides for the indefinite detention of mothers, fathers, and children who are fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the united states. there is no law on the books
which requires this government or allows this president to rip children away from their parents. the horrific scenes that we've seen and heard on television are the result of a president trump administration policy that could have ended today if president trump simply issued and order to end it. he has it within his power to end the crisis he created. he chose not to. instead, on world refugee day, president trump offered this remedy to the crisis he created -- lock up entire families indefinitely together. to do this he has to ignore a court order that applies to his administration and every administration for the last 20 years. the flores settlement between the united states government and the petitioners resulted in a binding 1997 court order that
required the children be released from custody without unnecessary delay. the government of the united states of america was a party to that agreement, that consent order. that flores case recognizes that children should not be treated like criminals and it prohibits the prolonged detention of children because of harmful effects. the trump executive order seeks to undo the flores consent decree. repealing flores was actually a key component of president trump's own immigration legislation. that was rejected, if you remember, by the senate 39-60 in february. is throwing kids in indefinite detention what we want to do as a nation? is it a loophole that a 5-year-old child cannot be detained beyond 20 days under flores? of course not. remember, the flores settlement
does not prohibit detention if it's necessary to ensure the safety of the child. the flores settlement simply prohibits indefinite detention of children, even with their families, and any order to undermine this critical protection will almost certainly be challenged in court. this executive order from president trump will be challenged on the very first day that it violates the flores settlement. in this order he sends attorney general sessions court town do the flores settlement that has been the law of the land and the standard for presidents of both political parties for almost 20 years. looking at the administration's policy of so-called zero tolerance, in which the president doubled down on today, here is what we find. the policy means that they are criminally prosecuted everyone at the border no matter what reason brought them to that border.
if someone is coming to the border to smuggle opioids or is part of a criminal gang, throw the book at them. but it makes no sense to throw the book at parents who come to the border with their kids because they're fleeing violence and death threats. ness no requirement, none, to prosecute every border case as a criminal case. as with many laws, there can be criminal or civil penalties for crossing the border without authorization. our nation could criminally prosecute everyone who drives too fast, but we use discretion and prosecute selectively. asylum seekers do not need to be caged to remain united with their families. the government has the power to individually assess each person apprehended at the border and determine whether that person presents a flight risk for a safety risk. those who do not present a risk can be released with their families to await immigration proceedings. we have found that if they are given the benefit of counsel, over 90% of those that have a
court proceeding show up for the proceeding. we should do that. we have effective and cost-efficient alternatives to detention available. president trump and his allies have taken thousands of children hostage to try to enact their anti-immigration agenda into law. we won't be fooled. this crisis doesn't need legislation to fix it. it requires republican members of congress to join us, stand up and say no and put an end to this ill-conceived trump policy. instead, we face efforts like senator cruz's bill which would not protect children and could undermine the due process approach that we've used in this government. this bill, like the president's executive order, would override the flores settlement. that is not a good startingpoint to the humane treatment of children. homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen this week claimed, i quote, we do not have a policy of separating families
at the border, period. like many of the president's tweets, that was just plain false. attorney general general jeff sessions established the zero tolerance policy that separated families, the policy that former first lady laura bush called cruel and immoral. when asked to justify how we could take this immoral position, attorney general sessions appeared to find some quote in the bible that gave him solace. the president of the american academy of pediatrics was more plain-spoken. he called this trump policy, government-sanctioned child abuse. mr. president, i urge my republican colleagues, people are watching and asking across this country -- aren't we better than this? can't we treat the dreamers in a more humane way? can't we save these children from being caged away from their parents? do we want this image in the world? is this what america has come
to? i don't believe so. two out of three americans happen to agree with what i just said. we are a better country than this. this president's executive order does not solve this problem, it makes it worse. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you, mr. president. first i want to thank senator merkley from oregon for organizing this very important session tonight. and i will say this -- last month attorney general jeff sessions unveiled the trump administration's new zero tolerance policy. whether you come to this land fleeing violence, poverty, or persecution, justice isn't blind. it is now also brutal. this inhumane policy sends a shudder down the spine of the statue of liberty but not that of our president. zero tolerance really means zero
refuge. zero tolerance really means zero discretion. zero tolerance tolerance really means zero humanity. the trump administration's mindless approach takes away the ability of federal law enforcement officers to exercise any discretion that might be warranted based on the facts and circumstances on the ground. in other words, zero tolerance is an anti-immigrant dragnet, the shocking effects of which we have been witnessing these past few days as children have literally been ripped from their parents' arms and separated from them as their mothers and fathers are taken into custody. these horrific images were finally enough, even for president trump. this afternoon he signed an executive order. he says it addresses the family separation crisis. it does no such thing. the executive order that the president signed doesn't end the zero tolerance policy of
prosecuting anyone and everyone who crosses the border. it reaffirms it. if all parents are still being prosecuted as criminals, which the executive order requires, what does this executive order actually do? we can only assume this executive order would imprison, remand, and incarcerate children, some as new as newborns into the same correctional facilities at their parents. they would be sleeping in cages instead of cribs. in this country our courts have decided that this treatment of children and families is malicious. in the flores agreement, more than 20 years ago, we stopped this practice. now the president wants to bring it back with a vengeance. the executive order directs the attorney general to try to modify the flores agreement but any attempt to undermine the critical protections for children that this landmark settlement has put in place should and will face immediate
court challenge. families and children don't belong in jail, period. and our president's executive order does not ask for trained child welfare workers to carry out his wishes. he's called in the military. he expects this cold blooded tactic, a tactic he's using to negotiate his wall to be implemented by the pentagon. now, what does that mean? apparently he envisions intern mngts camps using existing military bringings or other facilities to lock up these families. it sounds like a return to the shameful internment camps of the 1940's during world war ii. one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history. we know how that ended, with the federal government paying more than a billion dollars to right a wrong that could never
actually be corrected. it was a mistake that we should not even contemplate repeating. so president trump first manufactured this crisis at the border and his new executive order m it worse. the only thing president trump wants to solve is the public relations nightmare he has plunged our administration, his administration into. this is not a p.r. stunt. these are children's lives at stake. how we respond to this crisis will define the character of each and every one of us. it will define how our character as a nation is defined. at this critical moral juncture, i ask each of my colleagues to choose humanity. to my republican friends, your voices carry weight in this conversation, especially with this administration in power, use your voices. make clear that this executive
order will not end the suffering this administration is inflicting on vulnerable immigrant families. because in the united states, we do not keep children in jails or military prisons. we do not criminalize asylum seekers. we welcome immigrants for their contributions. we seek immigrants for their talents. we proudly remember our own families who came across a border, whether land or water knowing this country meant a new start. we are better than this. we must be better than this. the president wants to send a message that immigrants aren't welcome in america. his leadership may be devoid of compassion, but the american people are not. this policy must end. thank you. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, i begin by thanking senator merkley.
senator merkley, in my view, delivered a wake-up call to the country several weeks ago when he went to the border and i have been very pleased to be able to join him in this effort. a few days ago we visited a detention center in sheraton, oregon. we spoke with a father then who had been separated from his 18 -month-old daughter and the day before father's day, colleagues, senator merkley and i listened to a father who had been separated from his 18-month-old daughter, had no idea where she was, didn't know when he would see her again, and all over the country, now as part of this national shame, these stories have been breaking our heart. now, the president has said, for example, that he is turning away
gang members. what senator merkley and i saw last saturday is he is locking up innocent people who are in danger because they refused to submit to gangs in their home countries. that's what we heard at the sheraton prison just a knew days ago. and these stories are particularly poignant in our household. the wydens had the opportunity to flee the evils of nazi germany for the safety and the promise of the united states. my father came as a youngster. he barely spoke english. he studied hard and when the war came, he wanted to wear the uniform of the united states more than anything. he served in our propaganda arm
where his fluent native german was of great value to the war effort because he wrote propaganda pamphlets that we dropped on the nazis telling them that they had no chance, they had no opportunity to survive. and unlike the comical efforts of our enemies who mangled english, the work of young immigrants like my father wearing the uniform of the u.s. army struck at the morale of german soldiers freezing on the battlefield. my parents were lucky to be able to make a home in the country -- in our country, and they raised my brother and i here. they did their part to add to the fabric of the united states. now, the wydens were able to come but not every one of their -- not every one of their jewish
background were so fortunate. ship loads of jews fleeing prosecution and they were turned away from america. let me be clear about what happened. the rallying cry for those who wished to keep people like my jewish parents out of this country, those who denied jewish refugees safety in their moment of desperation, the rallying cry was america first. what happened to those families who turned to the beacon of america for safety and opportunity? many were forced back to europe and many of them ultimately ended up in the concentration camps. people don't embark on the harrowing journey to america much less kids by their side unless they are fleeing serious danger and deprivation. it's with that history i've wanted to join my colleagues
tonight on this floor to talk about the heartlessness you see in the trump zero tolerance policy. thousands of kids, refugees been forcibly separated from their parents. there are reports that border agents lied to mothers and fathers telling them their kids were being taken away for a bath only to have them disappear, a terrifying scenario, colleagues, with grim historical echoes. nursing babies taken from their mothers. kids locked in cages with days regimented like they're criminals facing hard time. there's a reason the courts have barred the executive from holding child refugees for more than 20 days. however, it appears the president intends now to ignore the courts and hold children in the jails for the foreseeable
future. the administration has gone to great lengths to defend their policy but they won't stand up and defend it with honest answers. the administration even buried a recent government report showing that refugees are a positive economic force. i gather because it just didn't fit the company line. i'll close, mr. president, by saying in my view, a strong leader does not rip kids from their mothers and lock them in cages. a strong leader does not take child hostages to use as political pawns. a strong leader does not lie in this -- does not lie and mislead the american people about the true nature of the policies he enacts. in my view, these have been acts of weakness.
my view is the national shame that we have seen over the last few weeks is going to go down as one of the dk moments in american history. it is why it is so important in the days ahead that we come together, democrats and republicans, andwe restore the great -- and we restore the greatness of america which is we are better and stronger because we stand up for refugees, refugees like the wydens who fled nazi germany decades ago. mr. president, i yield the floor. and i thank again my colleague from oregon for all his critical leadership on this matter. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: mr. president, i rise on world refugee day to thank the american public for standing up against the heartless decision by the trump administration to separate
children from their families at the southern border of the united states. because the administration's policy triggered our moral gag reflex, you spoke up loudly. everyday citizens, business executives, faith leaders, governors pulled back guard troops from missions on the border and airlines announced that they would not facilitate separation of families by flying children hundreds of miles away from their parents. because of you, the american public, this administration has altered its cruel policy at least for the time being. a new executive order suggests that families won't be separated but many questions remain. will they be detained indefinitely? where will they be detained? what process will be used to determine their fate? will people seeking to use our legal asylum process be treated
like criminals? and the most urgent question i have is this. what is the fate of the 2,300 children you have stripped away from their families? how will you assure that these children are properly returned to parents who are worried to death about them? congress has to exercise the most persistent oversight to ensure that these children are restored to their families. an administration that so cal salva leerily separated them from their parents out of a mistaken belief that the american public wouldn't care about it could hardly be trusted to reunite these families with speed and compassion. we have to stay on the task to ensure that they do. much has been said about the trauma inflexed upon these children -- trauma inflicted upon these children taken from their parents. i want to say how traumatic it is for a parent to have a child taken away without any idea when
or if a child will be returned. marco antonio munos was a 39-year-old father from honduras who made the difficult trek to the united states with his wife and with a 3-year-old boy. they came here in may after his brother-in-law was murdered by a drug gang. honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and they just wanted their family to be safe. the family crossed into the united states on may 12 in texas, a popular crossing point for central american families and teens who want to turn themselves in and seek asylum in the united states. i know a little bit about families like the munos family. i lived in honduras in 1980 and 1981 and i've returned a number of times, most recently in 2015. the violence in these
neighborhoods is severe, driven by gangs connected to a drug trade that has its origins in american demand for illicit drugs produced in mexico, central and south america. the violence in these honduran neighborhoods has a direct connection to the sad reality of addiction in the united states. when a family like the munos family leaves their home, they leave everything behind. and all they have is each other. when the munos family were taken into custody in the united states, border patrol agents told them that the trump zero tolerance policy meant that they had to be separated. and the father had a panic attack. as one border agent said, quote,
they had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands. that is called being a parent. if you tried to take my child out of my hands, i will hold on with every ounce of strength in my body. and they took mr. munoz away. they put him in a car to take him to a kernel-like jail, and he fought in the car. he tried to escape when they took him out of the car, when they put him in the kennel, he rammed the cage he was in. they decided the cage wasn't strong enough so they then transported him to a regional jail in mcallen, texas, and put him in a padded cell. and the next morning when they came to visit him, he was dead in his cell.
a victim of suicide with a piece of clothing wrapped around his neck. and agent who found him expressed confusion about why mr. munoz would, quote, choose to separate himself from his family. it wasn't mr. munoz who chose to separate himself from his family. it was a decision by this administration to punish him and his family that separated him from his family, and with no knowledge when or if he would see his wife and 3-year-old son again, he killed himself. when you've left your entire life behind and all you have is your family, how can anyone fail to understand how painful it is
to lose them? and so, as we try to reassemble 2,300 families that this administration has spread to the winds, there will be at least one 3-year-old boy who will not be able to reunite with his father. i ask this president, i ask the attorney general, i ask the secretary of homeland security -- was it worth it? was it worth it? mr. president, i yield.
sanders sanders mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont is recognized. mr. sanders: mr. president, let me thank senator merkley and others for organizing this important discussion. a discussion designed to reclaim american values. and i also want to take this opportunity not just to thank senator merkley but to thank millions of people from coast to coast, people who are conservatives and progressives, democrats, republicans, independents for getting on the phone, for calling members of congress, for expressing their outrage that in the united states of america today we have small children who were torn from their mothers and their fathers and locked up in detention cages. and all over this country,
regardless of one's political view, one understands that that is not what this country is about and must never be about. tonight as i understand it we have democrats down here. but opposition to this policy is widespread. let me quote from a recent op-ed that laura bush, our former first lady, the wife of a conservative republican, wrote. this is what she said -- quote, our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of el paso. these images are eerily reminiscent of the interment catches for u.s. citizens and noncitizens of japanese descent
during world war world war ii, w considered to be one of the most shameful episodes of american history. end of quote. so the good news is that because of american people spoke up, because some republicans finally had the guts to do the right thing and convey their displeasure to the president, trump has changed his policy. but let us be clear that the executive order that he issued today goes nowhere, nowhere, nowhere as far as it should go. first of all, mr. president -- and i would ask unanimous consent to enter into the record an article from "the daily beast," a publication that came out tonight. and what they say is there is no guarantee that in this executive
order, as senator kaine has indicated, that the fate of the 2,400 children currently imprisoned will be changed. there is nothing specific in the executive order that says that those 2,400 kids will in fact be reunited with their parents. presumably, this will apply to future apprehensions where children will be imprisoned with their parents. second of all, there is an effort in this executive order to overturn the 1997 flores settlement, which limits the government's ability to keep children in detention and orders them to be placed at least -- in least restrictive settings as possible. so if you can imagine it, what this executive order does is
raise the possibility of children being imprisoned for very, very long periods of time. is that better than them being separated from their parents? i guess. but does anybody really believe that we should be imprisoning for an indefinite period of time little children? there are better ways to deal with this issue. so, mr. president, what it is clear to the american people is that once again we have a president who caused this crisis by undoing existing policy. we have a president who i believe just the other day said, nothing i could do, it is law. sadly, once again he was lying. it is not federal law. his decision to separate children from their parents was
his decision and his decision alone. as he acknowledges today by announcing an executive order ostensibly doing away with that policy. and let me remind the american people, mr. president, that this terrible executive order that he issued separating children from their parents is not the first terrible executive order with regard to immigration. let us remember that months ago trump created the daca crisis and put 1.8 million young people in this country, young people who were raised in this country, working, going to school, who are serving in the military, in danger of deportation because of a decision that he made. so i say to the president, start working hard on a new executive order and make that executive order clear that the 2,400 children now in jail, separate
from their parents, will in fact be reunited and make it clear that we will not keep children in prison for an indefinite period of time. and, by the way, while you're at it, why don't you deal with the daca crisis that you created and provide the legal status that 80% of the american people want to see for the young people in the daca program. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and ask unanimous consent that this article be put into the "congressional record." the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i would like to thank my colleagues who are here tonight, senator motion to reconsiderly for organizing this evening. the president has taken a step back from a crisis that he provoked is, at crisis that he
caused and it seems like maybe it is a rare recognition on his part that when a president speaks and a president acts, they speak and they act on behalf of the american people, not on their own behalf. and the american people could not stand the idea that this country would do what it did to these kids in their name, could not stand the idea that the whole world would see the separation of children from their parents on the southern border of the united states of america perpetrated by our own government. and finally, probably for the first time ever, this president relented to the values that the american people share, whether they are conservatives, liberals, or something in between that. and that's the reason to say i'm glad we're moving in that
direction. and maybe another good thing will come out of this, which is that the people who stood up, who work for this administration, and defended this terrible, inhumane policy in the name of the law and in the name of religion, the bible, might think harder the next time they do that. -- at a moment of conscience like this. as my colleagues have said, it is not clear tonight what's in the policy. i want to quote from "the new york times'" article on the front page of the paper tonight. it says, and a health and human services official said that more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president of the united states' zero tolerance policy will not be immediately reunited with their families while the adults remain in federal custody during their immigration proceedings.
quote, there will not be a grandfathering of existing cases, said kenneth wolf, a spokesman for the division of the department of health and human services. mr. wolf said the decision about the children was made by the white house but he added, quote, i can tell you definitively that is going to be policy. so what are they saying? pentagon current kids aren't going -- the current kids aren't going to be grandfathered? the current kids that have been on the tv this whole week are not going to have the benefit of this executive order? i'd ask to admit this article into the record. the presiding officer:, would. mr. bennet: thank you. the headline of the article is "trump retreats on separating families but thousands will remain apart." we need to know and that obviously isn't going to be acceptable to the american people if that's the way it is. the last point i want to make tonight because i know i've got other colleagues here is that it
does not help matters when the president is completely allergic to the truth -- on any dimension, but especially this one. and today at the white house in front of all the cameras, in front of all, you know, the republicans that he invited there. he didn't invite any democrats there. this is what he said, lamenting the fact that he couldn't do a deal with democrats. we're having a lot of problems with democrats. this is the president i'm quoting. they don't care about lack of security. they would like to have open borders where everybody, anybody in the world could just flow in, including from the middle east, from anybody, anywhere. they can just flow into our country. tremendous problems with that. tremendous crimes caused by that. we're not going do that. this is what he says is our position. mr. president, as you know, i was on the gang of eight in 2013 that negotiated what was called
the border security economic opportunity and immigration enforcement act of 2013, the first two words in that title are "border security." it got 68 votes on this floor. every single democrat voted for it. and i want the american people to know what's in it because they'll never hear from the president what was in it. $46 billion for border enforcement. $30 billion to hire and deploy nearly 20,000 new border patrol agents, doubling the total number. we doubled the number of border patrol agents. $8 billion for a fence along the southern border at least 700 miles long. $4.5 billion for new surveillance secnologies. including air and marine sur's surveillance so we could see every inch of the border. so we'd know what was happening there. $2 billion to enact recommendations of a newly established southern border security commission.
$750 million to expand e-verify, the remaining $1 .5 billion for administrative costs to the departments of state, labor, agriculture. that is the border security bill that we passed in 12013, that is the border security bill that we shld pass today. and the only reason that it is not the law of the land today is because the house would not let it come to a vote. had they let it come to a vote, had the speaker allowed it to come to a vote, it would have passed. so i think collectively we should go back to that work and see if we can't actually solve the problem rather than just play politics with it in the case of what we've just seen, play politics with the lives of the children on the southern border. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i come to the floor again to talk about the
president's executive order, about the separation of family policy, and about the incarceration of family policy that has now replaced it. there aredetails that are unknown at -- there are details that are unknown about how this program will be working as we go forward. but we know enough right now to have the most serious and significant concerns about the president's executive order. every great nation, even the greatest nation in the history of the world, like the united states of america, has moments of extraordinary shame. times when it loses its moral compass and simply takes the wrong direction. we can remember a number of them in our own nation's history, and one of them was the internment of japanese children thrown into
world war ii era detention camps and imprisoned in effect with their parents. almost every lawyer in the united states of america and most citizens know the name korematsu. and that is because it was a moment of shame for this country. ending family separation, the process of tearing children away from their moms and dads, is a welcome and humane step. but the solution should not be indiscriminate and indefinite detention of children. family separation should not be replaced by family imprisonment.
there is no moral advantage to incarcerating children as opposed to tearing them away from their parents, and in fact it's not only immoral, it is illegal. the courts have said so on a number of occasions in 1997 in the flores case which is now well known to everyone but more recently, in fact as recently as 2016. and the reason goes to the core of our constitutional principles about how and when and who we imprison, how we take liberty away from people. indefinitely imprisoning children and families is still inhumane and ineffective law enforcement. president trump's current policies will put children
behind bars indefinitely and indiscriminately. children will experience many of the same enduring trauma, the pain and harm. the world will continue to watch. the united states of america locking up innocent children and throwing away the key. much like the policy of family separation, this new policy of indefinite and indiscriminate family detention hearkens back to those dark days, those moments of shame in this country during world war ii. and history will judge us as harshly if we fail to speak out and stand up at this moment of testle. it is upon the president, it is upon every
member of the united states senate. there are immense costs to this policy. $775 a day for these detention camps per individual. but the costs are way beyond the dollars and cents. they are to the moral image and authority of this country and to our self-image, our accountability to ourselves, our own sense of morality and humanity. the world was outraged when it saw children torn away from parents and now the president has acknowledged that his heart responded as well. but soon and i would predict very soon, we will see images as striking and stunning, as
repugnant as those images of taken children away from parents. when we see those images of detention facilities, cages of children, young people behind bars packed beyond capacity on military bases and other places never designed to hold these facilities. the world will be outraged by those images, the sights and sounds of those children as well. so we owe this new policy a special scrutiny, a strong sense of outrage if it is what it seems like right now. and we cannot remain silent. nor can we remain silent about
the children already separated from their parents. nothing in this executive order, not a word provides for reunification of the thousands of children already separated from their parents. what will happen to them. where are they? and where are their parents? and how will they be reunited? what trauma will they continue to endure? this policy remains as inhumane and cruel for them as it was earlier today or this week. all of us bear a responsibility in this moment. i urge my colleagues to take this day, world refugee day, to commemorate the great work done by brave individuals in this
country who helped to resettle refugees, and the refugees themselves who have the courage and strength to come here and make the journey from shores far away, overcome obstacles that most of us have never confronted. there are other solutions than putting children into detention camps. release programs that involve oversight and supervision. the management family, the case management program that has been working in other cities, efforts that are used for releasing them we should choose the least restrictive alternative, the least burdensome one that best serves the purposes of law enforcement and make no mistake, we have that obligation not only as a matter of heart and
morality but also of law. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. hassan: thank you, mr. president. i want to begin tonight by thanking my colleague, senator merkley, for his leadership on this issue. i rise today to join my democratic colleagues and millions of americans who have been appalled and outraged at the humanitarian crisis that president trump has created on our southern border. make no mistake, these past few weeks have truly been an affront to our american values. by now we have all witnessed the horrifying reality. the images of children being held in cages, the cries of screaming kids who have no idea where their parents are being
taken or if they'll ever see them again. the department of homeland security announced that between may 5 and june 9, the department took 2,300 children, approximately 70 children per day from their parents. and pediatricians, psychologists, and health professionals have made clear the lasting harm of these forced separations. according to experts, when children are forcibly removed from their parents, the amount of toxic stress can cause neurons in the brain to be killed off leaving damage that impacts brain development and that could cause long-term behavioral health issues. although no parent actually needs a doctor to tell them that. the fact that our government has engaged in this type of physical and psychological damage to children is morley reprehensible
-- is morally reprehensible. these actions have been unacceptable and completely unnecessary. let's be clear. the president created this crisis. and over the past days and weeks, the president and his administration made false claim after false claim saying that there was nothing they could do to reverse the president's own actions. the fact that the president bowed to pressure and signed an executive order today cannot undo the trauma that's already been inflicted. we cannot forget about the children and parents that remain separated tonight. and immediate action must be taken to reunite children with their families. earlier tonight there were reports that the department of health and human services will not -- will not make special
efforts to reunite children who have already been separated from families because of the president's actions. we cannot and will not accept this continued brutality. the president must act immediately to reunite these children with their parents. surely the united states government is capable of that. in the united states of america, we must work to secure our border in a manner that reflects our values. and i'm committed to working with anyone on comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform. mr. president, separating children from their families was an abhorrent policy to pursue. and it will forever mark a dark and shameful period in our country's history. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. a senator: i want to thank senator merkley for bringing us all together, what i would address, senator hassan, one of the dark marks in the history of our country. rise today to call attention to what has clearly been a human rights abuse committed by the united states government. ms. harris: and that is this outrageous and inhumane separation of children from their parents at the border. this morning thousands of children woke up without their parents not knowing where they were, not knowing when they would see them again, not knowing the adults who surround them having no relationship of trust with these people who have removed their ability to be in the arms and embrace of their parents. this is simply inhumane and it
is unacceptable. and even with the executive order from the president of the united states, that number will be the name tomorrow. those 2,000-plus children will be in the same situation tomorrow that they were in today and the day before and the day before that. over the last few months, the department of homeland security has separated more than 2,000 children from their parents at the border. many of them younger than 4 years old. and let's be clear about what that point is and that moment is in the stage of a human's development. because age is more than a chronological fact. there are phases of childhood that can never be replaced, phases of childhood that when that child experiences trauma, it will have lifelong impact. phases of life during which a child is so innocent and needs
love and needs nurturing and needs that love and nurturing from their parent. it cannot be replaced b anyone else. and certainly not by the cage in which they are now being housed. so let's look at where we are. it's a child's worst nightmare. a nightmare that is displayed, as my colleagues have discussed, in the story, the story of a child who was apparently ripped from her mother's breast as she was being breast fed. the story, nightmare story of a 3-year-old that was torn from the arms of his father, the father being so distraught that he took his own life. and we should tell the truth. we've got to speak the truth. the american public knows the truth. let's speak truth. here in the united states senate, let's speak truth as leaders and acknowledge the testing captions.wledge the
>> of america. the american medical association and the american academy of peerkts have weighed in on this topic. and what they have said is that family separation in these cases, not as a general matter, it is generally true. and specifically in these cases will cause lifelong trauma. they have indicated that there is empirical evidence of the fact that it is likely to cause significant harm to the brain structure of these children. and it will affect these children long and short-term health. and let's be clear, a society is judged based on how it treats its children. a society is judged based on how
it treats the least among us. and we will be judged harshly. history will judge us harshly because of what this administration has done. and as i stand here at this moment hours after the announcement of the executive order on this issue, i find it shocking that the executive order fails to acknowledge that over 2,000 children are currently at this very moment without their parents. i find it shocking that the executive order fails to acknowledge take into account or even concern itself with the fact that tonight there will be over 2,000 children who will go to bed, who will go to sleep without a kiss good night from their mother or their father. there are 2,000 children in our
country tonight who will go to bed without a hug from their parent. 2,000 children tonight will go to bed asking where is my mommy? where is my daddy? this is an outrage. it is an outrage. not to mention these children are innocent. and committed no wrongdoing whatsoever. and let's be clear, thankfully the american people have been speaking over these last many, many weeks. and that's the only reason the administration finally had to acknowledge that politically it could not survive its misdeeds. there has still been no acknowledgment by this administration that it visited this policy upon itself.
and after urging from every type of person from every walk of life still held steadfast in supporting this policy. but then it started to snowball, and they couldn't stand by it any longer. but it was only because of the pressure. only because of the relentless coverage by journalists who went to texas. who went to california. the activists who stood outside of those detention centers and demanded that there be justice and humanity in this system. and it was because of that activism and because of these people speaking out that finally this administration did what was necessary to end the thing that it started around the separation of these children. but this is not enough. because the reality is that
there is nothing about this executive order that addresses those 2,000 children who are currently without their parents. there is nothing about the administration stated policy as of today that indicates any plan to reunify those children with their parents. so let's look at the affect of this executive order. the affect is there is still indefinite detention of families in america because of this administration's policies. so now we're going to go from babies in cages to babies with their mommies in cages. let's be clear about the affect of this executive order. millions more taxpayer dollars will be used to expand detention camps on top of the billions of taxpayer dollars that have already poured into this detention system. let's be clear about the affect of this executive order that the so-called zero tolerance policy that created this problem in the
first place is still in effect. is still in effect. let's be clear about this executive order. the affect is to suggest that a mother fleeing a murder capital of the world, which is what the zero tolerance policy suggests, that a mother fleeing with her child a murder capital of the world should be treated as being equal in a threat to our safety as a member of a transnational criminal organization. and as a prosecutor for most of my adult life, i find that absolutely disingenuous and just absolutely wrong on a moral level, on an ethical level and devoid of any reference to real fact. but i'm not surprised given the administration's track record on this issue. if you look at what has been coming out of this administration in terms of its policies, it takes a
constellation of attacks on immigrant women, on immigrant children and on immigrant families. let's look at the constellation before us and what has been going on. let's just look at how this administration has changed the policies about detentions of pregnant women. before this administration acted on this subject, it was the policy of the united states government to place pregnant women in a least re strifkt -- restrictive place where they could be able to get the kind of prenatal care that they so desperately need and deserve. this administration rolled back both protections of pregnant women. let's look. there used to be a policy that gave a presumption that pregnant woman would not even be detained and should be in less restrictive situations. but this administration changed that policy. let's look at how the office of
the inspector general have raised oversite. there's nothing about that executive order that addresses those concerns. let's look at a complaint filed just last year by numerous organizations, such as the women's refugee commission that documents insufficient medical care and inhumane care for women in custody. all of this is why i've been proud to work with a representative to introduce the dunn act which would slash ice detention beds by using alternatives to detention and would increase oversite, badly needed oversite of these facilities. let's look at another policy. there are reports that the department of homeland security is looking at decreasing the standard of care for children in detention facilities. decreasing the standard of care.
these standards govern the type of meals that a child must eat in order to be healthy. these starts govern the type of recreation a child should receive in order to be healthy. and then just this past month the attorney general of the united states announced a decision which makes it nearly impossible for the victims of domestic violence, over 90% of whom are women, to seek asylum in the united states. and let's look at one final policy that makes this administration priority around children very clear. we have talked about this. we have talked about how they made a policy -- is an administration that is engaged in an act of complete hypocrisy, pretending to care about
families and children when, in fact, they have a track record of policies that are specifically damaging to families, women, and children. mr. president, in conclusion, there is no medical or logical reason that dictates or requires this administration to detain more pregnant women, and it's got to stop. there is no evidence that says you should reduce care for children in detention facilities. that's got to stop. there is no reason not to have a plan to reunify the 2,300 children who go to sleep tonight, torn from their parents and alone. there is no reason, and it's got to stop. this is not reflective of who we are as a country. we are better than this.
mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, iwe made a policy -- president, iwe of my colleague from california bringing her background as a prosecutor, as attorney general to bear as well as the heart of an american who understands that it is not within the scope of america's history or of our traditions or of our culture to treat those who are fleeing persecution and then persecute them when they arrive on our shores. quite the opposite. thank you for your comments tonight. to my colleagues who have spoken before, the 13 members of the senate who came and spoke this evening, sharing some very powerful stories. in several cases, powerful stories about their own family history, about their own parents or grandparents coming here to
the united states of america, placing themselves in the situation of how they might have suffered had president trump been in offic e when their families came to the shores of the united states, if they had been separated from their parents when they arrived. so it really helps sometimes to put yourself in the shoes of others to recognize that virtually all americans outside of our -- outside of our native americans, virtually all of us have roots that involve families fleeing persecution, fleeing civil war, fleeing religious oppression, fleeing starvation, coming here to the united states of america. when they came to the united states, they knew that the general principle of our country
was to treat them with respect and dignity. it's always been symbolized by lady liberty. lady liberty who says give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. now, that quote is the one we all know from emma lazarus, but her poem inscribed on the statue of liberty has some other powerful lines. like this one -- from her beacon hand glows worldwide welcome. worldwide welcome. that's been the attitude of america. and she says the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest pots to me.
i lift my lamp beside the golden door. well, that golden door, lady liberty's torch lighting the path has been desecrated by ident trump because he's got a new inscription, a new message he wanted to send, and that message, he called it a deterrent. that if you are fleeing oppression abroad and you wash up here on the shores of the united states of america, we're going to put you in handcuffs. we're going to throw you in prison, and we're going to take away your children. hardly the powerful vision of respect and dignity that has been the hallmark of how we treated those fleeing oppression throughout our history. pregnant and fearing for her unborn baby's life, a woman fled a death threat from a drug cartel in honduras.
she made her way to america, delivering her baby girl, andrea, along the way. on sunday, a group of seven members of congress, myself included, met her and met her baby. we'd gone out on the bridge to see what was going on because we'd heard that our american border guards were blocking those seeking asylum from coming across that bridge. they were demanding to see papers of people on the pedestrian bridge and saying you have a visa, fine. you have a passport, fine. you have no papers, you're seeking asylum, you're not welcome. you may not enter. now, i found that hard to believe that we'd treat those fleeing persecution, seeking asylum, present their case for asylum but i heard from others this was the case and articles
in the newspaper this was the case. when we went out there, we saw it firsthand. so here's this mother with her baby girl. and we got to talk to her because when we came off the bridge and we went into the port of entry through those doors and they had a variety of counseling rooms there and one room that was holding ten or so individuals, i said have you let in anyone who is seeking asylum? they said, oh, yes. i said, could we meet that person? and they said yes. and they brought her out to us with her little girl and she sat down. i sat down beside her. and we asked her some questions. why are you fleeing from central america? and she said my family took a loan from a private bank. the private bank has a relationship with the drug cartel or criminal empire that runs that part of the city.
and she said, we can't repay the loan. and so we've been told i'm targeted to be killed. i' safe as long as i was pregnant but as soon as i delivered, i was at high risk. she said with a month to go in my pregnancy, i fled. i fled to protect the life of my child and my life. i fled. she said unfortunately, her uncle wasilled. she escaped but her uncle was killed. i think we'd all have to conclude that her fear was very real. so there she is, eight months pregnant, taking the journey from honduras north up through guatemala, through mexico to get to the u.s. stopping along the way to deliver her baby. i think about the journey of mary and joseph with mary
pregnant and mary seeking shelter, a place to deliver her child, baby jesus. and she was let in, given accommodation, taken care of, weomed. but this woman was largely on her own as far as i could make out. and she continued north with her newborn and she made it to our border finally, escaped the drug cartel, escaped the death threat, delivered her baby, made it through guatemala and mexico. got to our shore, the shore so long symbolized by the lady liberty and her beacon of hope and welcome. and she got to the border and she tried to cross the pedestrian bridge, and she was
stopped. and she was sent back. and she said she'd tried multiple times to get across that pedestrian bridge, and she was rebuffed again and again and again. so i said to her, how did you get across the bridge? we'd been out there. we'd seen the border guards stopping those without papers. how did you get across? and for just a moment, an absolute smile lit up her face. and she said that as she was sent back time and again, she studied the situation and she saw that there were people out washing the windows on the car bridge. so she said, i had a plan. she went out and she borrowed a
squeegee from one of the window washers. they were washing windows and asking for up its. and she said she washed windows all across the bridge making her way through the cars to the united states of america. and then she was able to open that door to the port of entry in hadalgo. that's how hard it was, for one young woman with a 65-day-old child in her arms to get the opportunity to seek asylum in the united states of america. so it troubles me, it troubles me to reread the transcript of secretary nielsen who proceed to say there's no reason for people to cross before our borders. all they have to do is come to the port of entry. that's all they have to do. but she's in charge of this
program of slow walking those seeking asylum, only let a few in at a time, send them back time and time again. now, there was there was a attorney doing probono legal work who two weeks ago on my trip filled me in, she'd gone out to that bridge and there were some 40 families sleeping on the bridge waiting to be allowed to come in. now, when i went on sunday with the congressional delegation and said we wanted to go out on the bridge, the officer said oh, the bridge, there's nobody on the bridge. and i said why not? because they were there two weeks ago. oh, there's no one out on the bridge. you can go out and see for yourself. here's why there's nobody on the bridge. because they're not being let past the american border guards
to come to the american side of the bridge. but what this probono immigrant advocate and attorney said was that those folks are trapped in a terrible, terrible no win situation. because if they return to the mexican side, the gangs in that city know that they are easy prey. and she recounted some had been kidnapped and then their families had been extorted to get the money to free them. and so it's almost better for somebody to be on the about inning waiting than to be sent back to the mexican side. and those who run out of patients and end up crossing the border by going across the nearby river -- the bridge is actually over the rio grande river -- if they do that, then the administration says oh, you've committed a crime. we're going to lock you up and we're going to take your children away. another young woman we met on
this trip was hanging her head with hopelessness and resignation. and she told us how she had presented herself for asylum at an official border point, official port of entry because she'd heard that was the right thing to do and to ask for asylum. but despite doing it at a port of entry, she was charged with illegally crossing the border. and now she sits in an i.c.e. detention center with no idea where her child is, no communication with her family, no legal representation. will she ever see her toddler again? she doesn't know. i don't know. do you know whether she'll ever see her child again? yet another mother we talked with was panicked over her child's health. and she said her child had medical conditions, and when the border guards took the child
away, they didn't get any of the information from her about how he needed to be cared for. so she's deeply disturbed. she was pleading with them to take the medical information. she still doesn't know where her child is. she doesn't know how he's going to be cared for. how is that mother going to find out about her son's health? and here's what we know. this policy which was run as a pilot project last summer, which was officially sanctioned with a policy memo on april 6, which was officially announced on may 7, this policy of separating children from their parents is an extraordinarily egregious assault on the welfare of the
parent and it inflicts massive trauma on the child. the american academy of pediatrics described it this way. irrepairable harm, harm that cannot be fixed. our colleague from hawaii shared the story of family separation when her mother was not able to bring all of her chirp with her when she -- all of her children with her when she escaped domestic violence and came to the united states to start a new life and the lifelong impact that's had on her brother. well, here's a piece of the puzzle we should spend a lot of time thinking about. attorney general sessions just changed the policy of the united states about what qualifies for asylum. so my colleague from hawaii whose mother fled domestic violence would no longer qualify to present an opportunity for
asylum in the united states of america. she would have been turned away and sent home back to the horrific circumstances from which she escaped. and my colleague would not today be a u.s. senator sitting here helping us understand this issue through her personal, powerful experience. and that mother, the window washer who carried her baby andrea, 65 days old she told us in one arm, a scweejee in the other, finally bypassing the boarder guard so she could present her case for asylum, she's fleeing a gang, a drug cartel is defined as a gang. so she's not eligible for asylum with the change that was just made by jeff sessions. unilaterally, an established
policy to serve thousands of families fleeing from oppression overseas have just lost their legal standing to be able to present their case. i was struck about this executive order that came out, very vague. the president, was he ready to stand up and take responsibility for the policy implemented? was he ready to say, i thought it was right and here's why, but i hear the american people, i hear the southern baptists, i hear the evangelical leaders, i hear the united methodists, i hear the citizens profoundly disturbed by the treatment of children from every corner of the united states, from every
part, from alaska to florida, from maine to southern california and across to hawaii. i hear them and i'm going to do better. i'm going to change this. we're going to modify what we're doing. did he take responsibility? no. he titled it affording congress an opportunity to address family separation. and then he proceeds to say nothing about actually uniting the families he's already separated, not a thing in here about actually remedying the terrible plight that he's put now several thousand families into and counting. last count i heard was 2,300. and that was days ago. where are we now? 2,500 families separated, children separated from their parents. so what do we know about this
situation in which the existing children are going to be united or not united, and we have an article from "the new york times" this evening that my colleague from colorado referred to. but it answers the question very plainly. because i'd heard vies analyses -- various analyses saying this executive order fails to address what's going to happen to the current children, those current children who were sent far away from their parents so they're parents are incarcerated, they're imprisoned. the parents are in prison. where are the children? far away. what's going to happen to them? it doesn't say. it does say it is the policy of this administration to maintain family unity as if it's always been the policy of this family -- this administration to maintain family unity. it doesn't announce we're reversing the previous policy. doesn't announce a new policy. it just says it's the policy to
maintain the family unity. if it's the policy to maintain family unity, then why do i have this in my h t article from "the new york times," quoting kenneth wolfe, a spokesman for the administration for children and families? realize this, that when the department of homeland security takes children away from their parents and then ship them out to a different agency and that agency is this agency, the administration for children and families, which is a part of the office of refugee relocation or resettlement, office of refugee resettlement, which is part of the department of human services. so the children are torn away by homeland security and then they're put in a different
department over here, a subsection called the administration for children and families. so here's the spokesman, and he says, quote, there will not be a grandfathering of existing cases cases. what a word to describe children ripped away from their parents. they're cases. no grandfathering in existing cases. he said i can tell you definitively that is going to be the policy. well, i can tell you definitively i'm going to fight that policy. i want to fight that policy of failing to reunite these families after the administration said it's policy to keep families together and then says but not all those children we have already harmed. this is pretty disturbing, but
it's only the half of it. what's the other half? the other half is the administration has not given up on its strategy of deterrence based on injuring children. its strategy, laid out by jeff sessions, supported by chief of staff john kelly, this strategy, steve miller chiming in to say this will work, was to deter people from seeking asylum here in the united states of america by mistreating those who arrive and try to seek asylum. to send a message. they use the word deterrent. send a message of what will happen to you if you try to come here. there is no moral code in the united states of america or in the world that would support hurting children to send a message to families still overseas. there is no religious tradition
on this planet that supports injuring children to send a message overseas. but here we have mr. wolfe speaking definitively that nothing is going to be done for those children, those more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents. and moreover, the other half, the other half of the policy is that for those now coming in, it will be the strategy of the united states of america, the official strategy to incarcerate the children along with the parents. that's the plan. we have already gone down that path in the past. experts already have weighed in
saying incarcerating children with their families, they may not be separated, but they are incarcerated. they can't go to school. they can't play on the playground. that is another strategy of injuring children to continue this policy of deterrence. so that is deeply, deeply disturbing, and it's profoundly unacceptable. we've done this before. we've put families together into prison camps. we did it in world war ii. we took our japanese americans, and we put them into prison camps, and it was a profoundly disturbing chapter in our history. and now the president says that's his new plan, put families together in prison camps. so no, i'm not happy that the
president has entered the policy of family separation because he hasn't ended the strategy of harming children. so the fight must continue, the pressure must continue. the weighing in by religious group after religious group needs to continue. the legal challenges need to continue. the debate here on the floor of the senate needs to continue. we cannot accept family prison camps here in the united states of america. i was struck by the fact that we had a program that was working pretty well. that program is called the family case management program. this here in my hand is a report
from the office of the inspector general of homeland security. this is the inspector general's analysis of the family case management program to keep families together and out of prison, but to make sure they show up for their hearings and they show up for their asylum hearing. this was just a few months ago, november 30, 2017. and for those who want to look it up online, just look up o.i.g. for office of the inspector general, dash 18-22. you will immediately see a copy of this inspector general's report. and it takes a look at this program. the family case management program. that addresses this challenge in a whole different way. and here's what it says in summary. it says as of march 30, 2017,
i.c.e. reported it expended $17.5 million in program costs to enroll 781 active participants in the fcmp, the family case management program across all five locations. according to i.c.e. -- and this is just to continue the quote here -- according to i.c.e., overall program compliance for all five regions is an average of 99% for i.c.e. check-ins and appointments, as well as 100% attendance at court hearings. okay. it doesn't get much better than 100% of people showing up for the court hearings. this didn't require a family prison camp. this got 100% by treating people with respect and having a case manager who actually spoke their language check in with them, make sure they had the cell number and the home number and knew where they were living and made sure they knew the date and
understood the importance of showing up both for their check-ins and their appointments and their court hearings. they didn't get 80% of the court hearings. they didn't get 60% or 40%. they got 100%. so there is no argument, no argument that you have to incarcerate people to have them show up for a hearing, and there is no morality and continuing to injure children in order to send a policy of deterrence to people overseas, a message to people overseas. then we have the plan through all this incarceration to build prison camp after prison camp. i think we have a picture of the
tents. here are children at this new prison camp that is near el paso, texas. they ran out of room. they ran out of room at casa padre. casa padre is a big former walmart that was serving as a detention center center for children, children who were unaccompanied minors and children who were separated from their parents. they said earlier this year they had over 300 children there. and in april, they had 500 children there. when i went down there two weeks ago, and stood outside that walmart and tried to gain entry after having been denied a waiver to visit it with less than -- visit it, it was less than two weeks, i said i had heard from refugee advocates that there were hundreds of kids
behind that door, hundreds. and that there might even be as many as a thousand children behind those doors in that walmart. and even as i said those words, i thought that's not possible. it's not possible that a thousand children are locked up in that walmart. and what did we find out two weeks later? a congressional delegation going down and getting a waiver to be able to visit. there weren't a thousand children there. there weren't 1,100 children there. not 1,200, not 1,400. they had gotten a special adjustment to their permit to allow 11,500 children in that walmart. 15 hundreds children -- 1,500 children sleeping, trying to go
to class. 1,500 in one building. they said they were at capacity. they said we do have a few slots, but it was something like 1,467 kids. maybe they had one bus load that they could add. that's why the government is building this tent city for all the children they are detaining, all the children they are ripping away from parents. and now the administration says we'll take these same tent cities, these same prison camps, only we'll put whole families in there. and by the way, for those children that you see in this picture, those almost 1,500 boys that i saw at casa padre, they don't get to be united with their family because we have kenneth wolfe, the head of the administration for children and families saying there will not be a grandfathering, meaning those kids are out of luck. for as long as their parents are incarcerated, they are out of luck.
now, a lot of parents were told you're only going to go through a court proceeding. it will just take a day or two, and you will be reunited with your children. and that in many cases is a lie. if they were asserting asylum, then the administration has decided to keep the parents incarcerateed until their asylum hearing, which at this point could be many months in the future, sometimes over one year into the future. there's one woman who said this this -- she said i came here expecting to be able to assert my asylum claim. she didn't know if it would be judged to reach the standard for asylum in the u.s. if she had had enough evidence to demonstrate legitimate fear of return and that she had been persecuted before she came. she doesn't know if she meets those standards, but she said
what i have learned is my child has been shipped off. she said actually children. she had several children. she said it may be that i will be in prison for a year, so i have two choices. one is to give up my asylum claim and be shipped home. the other is to be in prison for a year. she said for my children's sake, i will ask my sister to adopt my children. trying to find some decent way with asylum blocked, threatened with a year in jail just to get an asylum hearing. for those members of the senate who have family histories with people who have come abroad -- from abroad, and that's almost, i would say it does include every single member of this senate. i don't think a single member of this senate is 100% native american. so every member here has a family history. all these branches going out
generations, imagine your grandfather, your great grandfather, your great, great grandmother and what would happen if they had arrived in the united states and said your choice is to leave your children aside and be in prison for a year, knowing what harm it would do to your children, and knowing at the end of the year you might not be granted asylum anyway when you got that hearing. so let's wrap this up. i believe that we must return to the vision of the statue of liberty. i believe that our nation is a nation that deeply resonates with the understanding that when those individuals flee persecution, they flee persecution, that they should be
treated with respect and dignity when they arrive on the shores of the united states. we absolutely must not go to a family policy of incarceration. this is handcuffs for all and it's completely unacceptable. we had under family separation, handcuffs for the parents and now the administration proposes handcuffs for all. this must not stand. we must resist it with every particle of our being and return to treating those who flee persecution with graciousness and fairness and dignity. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 9:45
.tands adjourned until 9:45 the senate today continued to work on fiscal year 2019 spending considering a bill that would fund energy, water, legislative branch, military construction and veterans programs. the senate has been debating amendments to the bill with a final passage vote expected this week. also today, the senate held a vote on taking up a $15 billion package of spending cuts from this year's budget proposed by the trump administration. the house passed the spending cuts, the rescission package as it's called earlier this month. but the legislation is currently held up in the senate appropriations committee. the vote to discharge the bill from the committee and bring it to the floor for action failed with few republicans susan collins of maine and richard bur of north carolina voting with the democrats. tomorrow the house debates and votes on republican sponsored immigration bills dealing with
family separation for those caught entering the u.s. illegally. two bills are currently being prepared with one being offered by judiciary committee chair. the others a compromise between conservatives and moderates that speaker ryan has referred to as plan b. the house begins immigration da eastern followed by live coverage on c-span. this weekend on afterwards, maryland congressman john delaney, the first democrat to declare a run for the presidency in 2020 offers his vision in the book the right answer. how we can unify our divided nation. he's interviewed by donna brazil, former chair of the democratic national committee. >> so you've been a member of congress now since 2013. >> that's right. >> you've had an opportunity to introduce legislation, work with democrats and republicans, but you also in the book call for an
end partisanship. what do you mean by that? >> i think a president or any other elected leader in this country should effectively represent everyone. >> uh-huh. >> whether they for them or not. and they should take a pledge never to divide us. >> that doesn't mean why they should vote for me or the other person or why the ideas are better than the other person's ideas or the future i'm envisioning is better than the other person. but taking it to the step where you're actually kind of a spirin is, i think, one of the things going on in this country right now, which i think is insidious. and i think if you do have the privilege of serving, which i do, in addition to swearing to defend and protect the constitution, we really should pledge the american people that we're not going to say things to divide us. that we're to go out of our way to try to unify the country.
the currently is inherently stronger when we're unified. >> watch afterwards sunday night at 9:00 eastern on c-span2 book tv. >> c-span washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up thursday morning, we are in juno, alaska, for the next stop on the c-span bus, 50 capitals tour. alaska governor bill walker is our guest during washington journal starting at 7:45 a.m. eastern. and texas democratic congressman gonzalez discusses border security and u.s. immigration policy. then iowa republican congressman steve king talks about child separation. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning. join the discussion. >> tonight on c-span2, we take you to the british