tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN June 13, 2018 5:59pm-6:34pm EDT
sake. this is not who we are as a nation. it's why i have joined ranking member cummings to demand an oversight committee hearing on this reckless policy and why i signed on to a resolution condemning this horrific behavior as the child abuse that it is. and why i am joining the women's caucus next week in a shadow hearing, because we have requested a hearing from the republican majority and have not granted it, so we are having our own hearing to explore this issue more. the administration needs to immediately change course and every member of congress must hold it accountable for doing so. these children, these families and this country deserves so much better. i thank my good friend,
representative correa for hosting this order and allowing allowing me to participate in this special order this evening. and i yield back. mr. correa: thank you to the distinguished gentlelady from new york. now i would like to yield my od friend mr. david cyst silley from rhode island. rhode island. om . mr. cicilline: we have a tradition of welcoming people from all over the world who are fleeing violence and war and repression. it's in fact one of the founding values of our country. and the words on the statue of liberty remind us of that. ve me your tired, your poor, your masses yearning to breathe free. the retched refuse of your teaming shore, send these, the homeless tell pest beside the
golden door. and what we are here tonight to do, mr. speaker, is to raise our voices and be sure the american people understand what is under way in our country. the trump administration has put forth a program that -- they call zero tolerance. to explain what this means, people who are fleeing gang olence, persecution, incredible deprivation, domestic violence, travel a long distance, come to america, for the hope of being safe. and we have laws in this country that say, if in fact you are legitimately fleeing violence or persecution, and you can demonstrate that, you are eligible for something called asylum. it's an international requirement. it's in our law. this is a lawful process. and they come to america, to the golden door, and what's happening now in this country? patients are being ripped from their -- parents are being ripped from their children.
separated. mothers hearing their children in another room crying out their names, pleading for their mothers. and there's nothing they can do because they're being detained. is this who we are? this is not what we expect of the greatest democracy in the world. it's not only against the law, it's not only in violation of international obligation, imagine the united states is being condemned by the united nations high commissioner on refugees and human rights. because of this conduct. it's been described as torture of children. torture being defined as an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as punishing him or her for an act he or she or a third person has committed. this is torture on kids. to rip them from their parents. and we today in the judiciary committee pleaded with the chairman, bring this matter br the judiciary -- matter before
the judiciary. we have oversight responsibility for this process. we have a right to know what's going on. but we had a hearing today on a texas water district issue, a permit issue, but we couldn't this before ring our committee. this is a practice which does violence to children, which is tearing families apart, and for which there is no legal justification. and we have pleaded with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, raise your voices. the world is watching america in this moment. and we are undermining our standing in the world, the values that we promote around the world. and we are particularly doing tremendous damage to these children and families who are being separated. we have asylum laws for a reason. those have been enacted by the congress of the united states. and they should be respected by these officials and the department of homeland security
and i.c.e. and by the attorney general of the united states. it is hard to describe the heartache and the pain and the suffering that this illegal, unconstitutional, despicable policy is causing. and our colleagues, my friends on the other side of the aisle, have not so much as raised a peep. they are responsible in their silence for the continuation of this program. whether he continue to raise our voices. to do everything that we can to bring the attention of the american people to this travesty. because only by the american people contacting their members of congress, demanding that this policy change, speaking out against this horrific brutality that is occurring in detention facilities all across this country. and this does not reflect the values of our country.
it does not reflect our shared values of respecting the human dignity of every person, of the special place that children have and the special responsibility that we have for children. and we have a responsibility to do something about it, to stop this, to bring the attorney general before the congress of the united states, to hold him accountable for this horrific behavior. and once again demonstrate to the world that we are a country that lifts people up, that respects human rights, that honors children and that demonstrates a commitment to family values. this zero tolerance policy does violence to all of that. and with that, i thank the gentleman for giving me an opportunity a part of this. mr. correa: i thank my good friend from rhode island. now i'd like it yield to my good friend and distinguished colleague from the state of texas, mr. o'rourke. mr. o'rourke: mr. speaker, on onday of this week, i was in
mcallen, texas. a beautiful community comprised of some incredibly courageous, strong, kind-hearted people in the rio grande valley in the state of texas. connected by the rio grande river to renosa, mexico. forming one of these extraordinary binational communities that distinguish our connection with mexico, with the state of texas, for the united states of america. and i was able to visit the border patrol station in mcallen, texas, which is the busiest border patrol station in the country. and i happened to be there during the busiest shift during that day in that busy station. and i was able to spend some time with the amazing women and men of the border patrol. who have one of the toughest jobs that i can imagine, of keeping our country safe, of protecting our communities and
the families within our communities. and of meeting those who are at their most desperate, most vulnerable moment in their lives. people who have fled terror and violence, death and -- death in their countries to come to ours, to seek asylum, to seek safety, to seek refuge. and in that border patrol station i had the ability to meet a family, a young mother and her young child, who had fled honduras and had traveled more than 2,000 miles to come to this country. and because they presented themselves to border patrol agents, didn't try to flee from them, went to those border patrol agents seeking asylum, in between the ports of entry, and didn't do it at the international bridge, didn't do it at the port of entry, that young mother and her child were arrested and they were being held in that cell comprised of
cinder blocks, sitting on hard concrete bench with a number of other mothers and young children. had just been arrested within the last 24 hours, were about to go to the border patrol processing center. and through tears that young mother was able to tell me about her journey and when i asked her why she didn't choose to cross at the port of entry where she could have lawfully petitioned for asylum, she said, i was scared. she didn't know where to cross. and frankly, those crossing areas in renosa, on the mexican side of the u.s.-mexico border, are controlled by the cartels. the cartels determined where she and her 7-year-old daughter were going to cross. not lost on me the fact that her daughter -- on me was the fact that her daughter was gripping her mother's hand for dear life, which i imagine she had been for the last three weeks. where if they were lucky they made it on food, -- foot.
they also made it atop, not inside, of a train, known as the beast. and where they were fortunate enough to survive that journey and come to our front door of the united states at the texas-mexico border. and where she was arrested, and unbeknownst to her and to that little girl that was clutching her hand, they would within hours be separated and might not know when they would be joined again, if ever. 100% of the young women and men who travel with those young children in between our ports of entry are arrested. are detained in prison -- detained, imprisoned, jailed in those border patrol stations. where they next go to the next place that i went to in mcallen, which was the border patrol procession center. a gigantic warehouse where i saw the children who had just been separated from their moms and
dads, behind cyclone fencing, sleeping on polished concrete floors, with a mattress five or six inches thick directly on the ground, blankets keeping them warm. again, with border patrol agents who were as humane and professional as possible, given the circumstances and the conditions. men separated in other holding pods, women behind cyclone fences and other holding pods. there was another cyclone fenced area open for public view where you went to the bathroom and where we had to be able to see your head or your feet. those are the processes and procedures. and the laws under which those people are being held. after that i went to the international bridge at renosa and on the mexican side was able to talk to three different people who were seeking asylum.
two of them had made the trip from guatemala. when they got there, they were kidnapped by cartels, held for 12 days without clothes, without access to the outside world, with the exception of being able to make calls to family members who could cough up the $7,500 that would purchase their freedom, allow them to leave captivity and make their way to the international bridge, literally 10 feet away from the international line in the united states of america, where if they could step foot on our soil they would be able to lawfully petition for asylum. but standing there were four officers of customs and border protection who would not let them pass. who told them, we do not have capacity within our country and therefore they cannot lawfully petition for asylum. therefore perversely providing the incentive for them to try to cross in between the ports of entry illegally, where they will be arrested, criminally prosecuted and sent back to
countries from which they are fleeing certain death. after that i went to a detention center run by a private prison corporation, where i met a man who had left his home country, with his 12-year-old daughter, who he has not seen for the last five days. and in between four-inch-thick plexiglas, behind which i could barely hear what he was saying, he told me about the horrific journey that he had endured. he took off his shirt and showed me the bullet wounds he had suffered that had caused him to make the desperate decision to leave his family, his home country, his language, whatever he knew in life, and take that 12-year-old girl and try to bring her to safety. and again, just was that mother, he was arrested, he now was in criminal proceedings, he would now be moved to immigration and customs enforcement removal operations, e.r.o. facility, where he would be sent back to his country of origin and he had
no clue where that 12-year-old girl that he had risked erything for was at that moment. and thank god for his pro bono attorney. next to whom i was sitting, who was doing everything in her power to provide him the strength, reminding him to keep his faith, and saying that she was going to do everything in her effort, in her power, to try track -- to track down that 12-year-old girl. mr. speaker, who are we to be doing this right now? i know that every single one of us to a person, if we were standing here in this chamber, in 1939, when this country was sending back the -- the st. louis, which had set sail on may 13, 1939, from hamburg, germany, with more than 900 german jewish refugee, including children, that all of to us a person would like to say, if i were here, i would have made the case to accept the st. louis and those
900 passengers and make sure they could find refuge and asylum in this country. instead this country chose not to. and we sent that ship back to europe. where more than 250 of those 900 passengers would be slaughtered in the holocaust. this is our opportunity to do the right thing. we will be judged by our conscience, by our children, and by history. this is our moment of truth. so i join my friend from california, with every member in this chamber, republican and democrat, in calling upon ourselves, our country, to do the right thing at the moment that we still have the chance to do the right thing. tomorrow legislation will be introduced to end the practice of family separation. as an original co-sponsor of this bill, i'm calling on my colleagues to rush the decision, the debate, and to pass this overwhelmingly so that we can send this to the senate and ultimately to the president's desk for his signature and do
the right thing while we still have the chance to do that. mr. speaker, with that, i yield back to my colleague from california. mr. correa: thank you, i want to thank you for your comments. i thank you -- i think you are the viewly -- you are absolutely correct. history is going to judge us. we're going to look back years from now and say, what did we do? we have to make sure we are not silent in this very special moment in our history. thank you, sir. . now i'd like to yield to my good friend and colleague, mr. adam smith, from the state of washington. elcome, mr. smith. mr. smith: thank you, i appreciate the opportunity to speak on this very important issue. i want to echo the comments of my colleagues about the basic inhumanity of the policy the trump administration is perpetrating on these people who are trying to cross the boarder to seek asylum, who are seeking
to lee unlivable conditions in a variety of countries in latin america. to have a policy of separating them from their children is inhumane and goes against every value we as americans hold dear. the terrible thing about it is, if you listen to the trump administration that seems to be the idea. their notion is to make it as painful as possible to discourage these people from wanting to seek refuge in the united states. think about how that policy just flips on its head everything we were raised to believe about america. one of the things that makes america great is we are made up of people all over the world who in many cases have fled horrific living conditions to come here and build a better life for them and their families. that's made us all better. our country is stronger because we are renewed, every generation, by a new set of immigrants from a variety of places across the world. the trump administration is the first administration in the history of this country to be
openly, 100% hostile to all immigrants. they are trying to make the policy as brutal as possible. they don't understand the benefit of immigration. they seem to think it is hurting us, when it is not. they are wrong on that policy and it is a simple policy to fix. in fact, it's interesting, we have heard the president on a couple of occasions in the last month say, not my policy. it's because of some law that congress passed. it's possible that he's that ignorant. i doubt it. i actually think that he is simply not telling the truth to the american people about a policy that his own attorney general has stated clearly. president trump is you are -- if you are as appalled as you have said on a couple of occasions by this policy, you're the president. fix it. ange i stop it. my district, at federal penitentiary, federal penitentiary in sea tack, washington, supposed to be for the most dangerous criminal who
was committed corral freshmans, there are housed well over 150 women right now, many of whom have been separated from their children when they crossed the border. there's a simple fix to this process as previous speakers including mr. o'rourke have said, we have an asylum process in this country. there's a standard by which people can seek asylum and it can be granted or not. we should allow these people coming across this boarder to go through that asylum process. this notion that we don't have room is patently ridiculous. even at this point eff all kinds of jobs going unfilled in this country. beyond that, our basic humanity should say, these people are suffering. we have a law that says we should protect them, follow that law. also in terms of housing them, there are more people than i can count, more nonprofit organizations, more religious organization, volunteer organizations who have said, we will gad lay -- gladly take in these immigrants while they await their asylum here.
there's a very simple solution to this. we don't have to put them in the horrible barracks mr. o'rourke described a few moments ago. there are people who will take them, keep them while they go through the process. it's simple. stop the policy of separating children from their mothers and fathers. it's wrong. it's inhumane. it's grossly unnecessary. they come across the border, we've got a pr says. keep them with their families, take advantage of the resources that are available out there in the private sector to find them a place to stay with their families together, and go through the asylum process. i understand the asylum process, not everybody is going to qualify for asylum. it's possible some of these people will have to be sent back to their home country but at a minimum we can make sure when they stay here they stay together as a family, if they are allowed to stay they stay together as a family if they don't get granted asylum they go back as a family. to separate families, i want to emphasize this point.
when you listen to the attorney general and the administration, they are doing this because it is cruel. because they are so opposed to immigration that they want to try to discourage people. and that is just a sad commentary on what the united states has become thunder president. we should do the humane thing. keep families together. give them their day in court, their day to prove that they qualify for asylum and then you can make the decision from there but don't rip children out of the hands of families. it's something the united states of america should never do. i thank my colleague from california for holding this hour and thank him for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. mr. correa: mr. smith, thank you for coming over, sharing your thoughts, very important. we cannot forget, thank you very much. i'd like to yield to my good friend and distinguished colleague, ms. jackson lee, from the good state of texas.
ms. jackson lee: mr. correa from the great state of california, i thank you for taking the time to really allow those of us who are in pain to express that pain. i know that my colleagues each one of them as we say sometimes in our religious institutions have come in their own way. come in a series of ways. one, as a years-long member of the immigration subcommittee on the house judiciary committee. beinpresent when we designed policy for unaccompanied children to be protected and to get to their rightful guardian and not go in the hands of sex traffickers. that was in fact a stated policy of the united states. for unaccompanied children. and in many ways it happens. we know that in the last four or five years, i was at the border
when the surge of unaccompanied children came because of the violence particularly in central america. these children came, we knew they were coming. and we had standup facilities un by numbings nun -- nuns and other religious organizations to take unaccompanied children until a legal forwardian in the united states could be documented or some other legitimate family could be documented, when i say documented, documented they were able to take the child and that they were legal to the extent that they were not human traffickers. that is what policies we had. there is no policy there is no regulation, there is no statute there is no law. there is no law that is allowing the personnel at the border,
customs, particularly border trol, to snatch, rip, tear children away from their families. if the distinguished gentleman from california would allow me, i want this to be a call to action. because there is a legal process, a legislative process, as my previous colleagues have said, many of us are introducing legislation. this past weekend i stood with gaut ma lan citizens, people of ut ma lan decent -- -- atemalan citizens, people of guatemalan descent. they will be fleeing many of them. we know people have come because they have suffered unbelievable, unspeakable gang violence.
the decapitating of heads. the murder of children. one mother saw two sons murdered and she took the last child, boy child, to try to find refuge. there are stories like this all over. and so what is happening at the that is a nonpolicy done only for the vileness of punishment. we will punish these people and they will not come anymore. as we were on the brink of father's day, for those who read the scriptures, they know the store roif -- story of moses. sometimes a parent is so desperate that they will either escape with that child or send that child on. america has always been a place that's found a regular order to deal with this crisis. that is not what's happening and
the american people need to understand. the courts are overloaded. there are not enough immigration judges. there are not enough lawyers. they are takg into court 50 and 70 people at a time. there are some people that are not speaking spanish, they are speaking indigenous language and they do not understand at all september they have come with the right that they have and the legal term of credible fear, they've come to seek asylum. and we have for long precedent allowed those who have experienced domestic violence, the stories are horrific, or those who have been the victim of gangs, to come and that is not happening now. so i just want to hold up these pictures, the anguish of parents
who could be like any one of us. the anguish of the father, mr. rodes, whs 5-year-old was snatched from him. he anguish of clarence who desired to do nothing but to help their child themselves. and these children are being snatched away, not any immigration policy but a policy to scare, to punish, to frighten, to undermine and to do a vileness. not because america is not good. we are. but it is important that we act upon that goodness. that we don't have this series of pictures where when this mother turns her back the child is snatched away. so the call to action is to the vastness of our religious community. the vast television ministry. tbn, impact, the word network.
hillsong. whatever ones you want to call. in this day of worship, all of these leaders should stand and speak out in the loudest voice ainst the unspeakable, nonkindness, ungodly act of snatching children away from parents. will be going down to visit and to see a number of centers. all i ask is my government to be what it is, a loving and nurturing place of values and democracy, and a recognition that we are a nation of immigrants and nation of laws. these people have come to seek asylum. that's a legal process. some may win it, some may not. but i would only say to you that who are we, if we cannot as a mass of americans cry out against this administration, no matter how much of a cult we
think this administration has been called, there have to be some good people that will recognize that our values, our flag, rises above any person and it is important for us to save the lives of these children. mr. korea, let me thank you so much for yielding to me. mr. correa: thank you, congresswoman jackson lee, for your comments. at this moment in history, we cannot be silent. we cannot look away. and in this moment of history we nnot ignore what we know is clearly going on around us. thank you very much. ms. jackson lee: i yield back. mr. correa: i'd like to yield to my friend and distinguished colleague from texas, mr. joaquin castro. mr. castro: thank you, congressman correa. i think as americans learned
over the last few weeks that young children were being separated from their mothers and fathers at the u.s.-mexico border, and now have heard that the trump administration is proposing to put these young children who have been separated from their parents in tent camps on military bases in texas and in other places, it makes people wonder whether the nation has lost its moral compass under this administration. just because somebody crosses a border or presents themselves at a border does not make them nonhuman. the united states is a nation, if anything that stands and has stood for freedom, for human rights, for democracy. how can we carry that mantle when we refuse to treat people like human beings? especially young children.
this has become standard government policy under the trump administration. it's leaving lasting trauma, emotional, mental, physical rauma to these young kids. we should be able to enforce our immigration laws and still respect people's humanity. and so i've been encouraged to e so many americans speak up against this abhorrent policy. so many americans from every corner of this nation, every city and every part, have spoken up against this policy. but it was quite remarkable because this nation has stood as a moral beacon around the world. it was quite remarkable recently when the united nations, which
the united states hosts in new york city, and which the united states -- for which the united states is the largest funder, condemned our nation for separating kids from their families and their parents at he u.s.-mexico border. i ask us to think about that. and its significance. and if we can't stop these kinds of things from happening in the united states, then i don't know that we can stop them from happening anywhere in the world. and this is not only a call to conscience, it's a call to respect our constitution and it's a call that is not republican or democrat or liberal or conservative, but american. it's a call for respect of human dignity. thank you, congressman correia, foring this discussion today, and for all of your -- for organizing this discussion today, and for all of your work
on this issue. >> thank you. i want to thank my colleague, mr. castro, from the good state of texas, for comments. and, mr. speaker, i want to thank you and the body for the opportunity to address this most important issue of asylum. mr. correa: this most important issue of children. the issue of children seeking asylum in this great country of ours. we have to remember who this country is. we have to remember who we are as a people. we are all immigrants in this country. except if you're native-born, native american, you're not. but 9 .9% of us -- 99.9% of us, we're all immigrants. we all came to this country, our forefathers came to this country seeking a better life, seeking better opportunities, and seeking to run away from tyranny that was provided to them by
other countries. and today i hope that the people that are watching, people that are listening, understand what's at stake today. it we cannot look away -- today. we cannot look away. we cannot ignore what's going on. mr. speaker, with that i move that the house now be adjourned. the speaker pro tempore: members are also reminded to direct their remarks to the chair. does the gentleman have a motion?
mr. correa: mr. speaker, i would like to move to adjourn the house at this time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to adjourn. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly, the house stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow for morning hour debate. base. we want to get your response, and we will also get perspective from congress throughout the program. joining us now is ted yoho, who sits on the subcommittee for asia and the pacific, and is in the chair of that committee.