tv House Democrats on Migrant Children Border Security CSPAN June 21, 2018 6:17am-6:52am EDT
i yield back my time. >> house democrats held a rally at the u.s. capitol criticizing the trump administration for separating children from their migrant parents at the u.s.-mexico border. congressman jerry nadler now of new york talked about legislation he is introducing. this was held after the president said he would sign an executive order on migrant children separated from their families. >> i can't get this -- what? ok. good afternoon. i am congressman jerry nadler of new york. ranking democrat on the judiciary committee.
ledunday, father's day, i an unannounced inspection of an ice detention center to witness firsthand the trump administration's heartless and dangerous family separation policy. i spoke to fathers whose children had been taken from them, who have no idea when or if they will see their children again. i saw their anguished faces as they told me and my colleagues of the horrors they have faced since arriving. we have all seen the heartbreaking pictures and listened to the desperate cries of children screaming for their parents in the united states. one father who came to this country seeking refuge after fleeing terrible violence at home, told us how he pleaded to be kept with his young child and was told they would not be separated, only for officers to enter his room at 3:00 in the morning and forcibly take away his young daughter.
this father still has not been told where his daughter was sent and does not know when, or even if, he will see his little girl again. no american, democrat or republican, should be able to stand by while this kind of torture is committed in our name. the president and his administration claim they are powerless and that the law forces them to rip children from the arms of their parents. make no mistake. this is a lie. the president could stop this policy today. instead, he could order that famiesot be separated. and not be held in detention pending the adjudication of their asylum claims. instead he uses what amounts to government-sponsored child abuse as political leverage. a bargaining chip in his effort to force through an extremist agenda.
since donald trump will not end this brutal policy, it is up to congress to address this crisis. although again we say the president could do it immediately. that is why we are here today to announce the introduction of the keep families together act. this includes a variety of measures to prevent children from being separated from their parents except in extraordinary circumstances. when children must be separated, as in adjudication of child abuse, the bill ensures it is done under the oversight of a welfare official and that children are returned to their parents as quickly as possible. i am proud to be joined by my democratic colleagues, including leader pelosi, democratic whip hoyer, ranking member eliot engel from foreign affairs, maxine waters from financial services, who is in a hearing
right now, and over 190 members of the democratic caucus. i hope my republican colleagues who were also upset by the administration'zero-terance policy will join us in supporting the keep families together act. we have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us, which surely includes children. if president trump's family separation policies allowed to continue, this country will fail to meet a critical test of its values. the world is watching. i will now call on the distinguished house democratic leader nancy pelosi. >> let us thank jerry nadler for his leadership. and his beautiful statement. thank you for calling us together today to support your legislation to keep families together. over the weekend, a number of
members gathered on these steps visited detention centers in new jersey and texas and california and saw firsthand the injustice and inhumanity of it all. here we are bringing our concerns to the steps of the capitol once again. once again to say to the president of the united states, how low can you go? what is the measure of your character, your compassion, and your commitment to a better america that you would advocate a policy that rips children from the arms of their parents? mothers and or their fathers. to use a biblical justification to do it goes beyond -- just when we think we have seen it all from you. the fact is, in the words of jesus himself, he said, when they brought little children to jesus to place hands on them, he
said let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. i go to this prayerful place because this challenge that we face, this challenge of conscience to our country, to all of us who served our country, to those of us who take an oath of office to protect the constitution, have not only a policy debate to be engaged in, but a values debate to win. in order to do that, it is important for people to know the truth. when the president says these actions are not of his doing, he is not telling the truth. the truth is he instituted this administration instituted the zero-tolerance policy, which again, is a disgrace to our nation.
it is a stain on our history and it hurts these little children and their families. when the administration says this is the right thing to do because these parents did e wrong thing by bringing their children across the desert, across mexico, they are unfit parents, the administration says, and we know better. to take those children from them, put them in foster care, or whatever. that was the expression. or what ever? that was the expression. do they not know the value of parenting? does the president think of children as accessories? not central to the family sanctity in our country? it is really difficult to understand even in this administration how they could go this far, place the blame elsewhere, not even the -- not even be apologetic about
it. we know better how to take care of those children. really? that is wrong. that is not right. anybody who advocates for that is doing the wrong thing. including, the president of the united states. pope francis this morning said we encounter jesus in those who are poor, rejected, and refugees. do not let fear get in the way of welcoming our neighbor in need. this is about parents and their children. parents and their children. if the president does not understand that, we understand the scope of the challenge we have to face as we debate the values in our country. i am very proud of mr. nadler's legislation. i am proud of the members who have attended to this issue over the weekend every day and now on
the steps of the capitol. on their behalf i am pleased to welcome a special guest. endy the young, -- w young the executive director of , kids in need of defense. kind. thank you. >> thank you. kind stands in support of this legislation. we would like to thank representative nadler, speaker pelosi, and the other courageous cosponsors of this legislation. we congratulate you for standing up for some of the most vulnerable children in the world. children on the move in search of safety and protection. this legislation would put the united states back on track of what is right and what is good by allowing family members to remain together while the immigration courts decide whether they need protection from persecution and violence or can safely return home. what we have witnessed from the trump administration is a
cynical manipulation of laws and policies that have been constructed tect unaccompanied children, children who truly arrive alone, most importantly the trafficked children. these laws have been carefully to create a protection framework for the most vulnerable children in the world. children who have been forced to flee their home countries alone, to travel alone in search of safety. we have never before this time seen our government intentionally and cruelly separate accompanied children and redesignating them as unaccompanied. we have never seen our government systematically prosecute parents who have done nothing wrong or illegal but are simply asking the united states to do what we have a tradition of doing. offering safe haven to those who cannot find safety in their home countries. none of this is required under
-- let me repeat -- none of this is required under u.s. law, regardless of what this administration is asserting. the keep families together act offers a humane, rational approach to the treatment of families seeking asylum by ensuring family separations are only done under the most exceptional circumstance it ensures families have full access to our judicial system to determine if they need protection. most of all, it will put an and -- an end to the trauma to which children have been subjected simply because this administration believes its political objectives are more important than the lives and well-being of innocent young children. kind is proud to join the members of the house in support of this legislation. thank you. [applause] >> representative lofgren i am
, the ranking member on the immigration subcommittee area i want to say, there has been some confusion perpetrated by the administration about what's really going on. asylum is part of american immigration law. when people go to the ports of entry to file for political assembly, they have been turned away. those families after a period of days are going to turn themselves in to border patrol agents to make a claim they are permitted to make under american law. what happens then? the administration has separated, taken babies and toddlers away from those parents, the first time it has ever happened in the modern history of our country. it is an outrage. we now know there are babies who have been left behind, parents who have been deported with their children left behind. what kind of country does that? we cannot allow that to be done
in our name. this bill would stop that. the truth is the president cantt the truth is the president can do this on his own. the answer is not to violate the law to put whole families in indefinite prison. the answer is to make sure there is the orderly administration of the law. we had a family case management program where 100% of the asylum applicants appeared in court, and if they lost, they had to go home, and if they won, the law was followed and they were able to stay. that is what we need to do. we are here to say, mr. president, stop being so beastly , stop being so on american -- namerican, so torturous toward these little children. it makes me ashamed of you.
i would like to ask representative gutierrez to come forward. >> i want to say to congressman nadler, thank you for your leadership and for bringing us together today behind this wonderful legislation. thank you to my democratic colleagues for standing up for the children. first of all, mr. president, you can end this with a phone call. you do not have to pick up a pen. you don't have to send an email to anybody. pick up the phone and end this torture at our border. and this tragedy at our border. [applause] call your head of homeland security and tell her to do her job and have a conscience about the children and fulfill her responsibility to the american people. [applause] call your head of the department of justice and tell them to follow the law. what do we mean by that?
we mean that when people come to this country, mr. sessions, maybe an attorney general who voted against violence against women act could see women who come here to this country who face rape and torture and death and abuse, and you mr. attorney general call that a private matter. it is not. it is a public matter. the american people of good conscience and goodwill will defend those women. they are coming forward, mr. attorney general. maybe in your america it is a private matter. in our america, it is a public matter in which we all assume responsibility to those women and children. why separate the children? the attorney general has been very clear. he said, i want to deter people from coming to america. he said it. he has changed the rules in the
middle of the game. he has changed it in a way that affects those children. they are going to bemed. th are going to be damaged. they are going to be abused. this is child abuse, what you are committing against those children. those children should be with of their moms and dads. as a dad, the most transformative moment in my life was the moment my daughter was born. my firstborn. they placed her in my arms. i was the first person to hold that girl in my arms. to think that people would think about taking away dads' daughters from their arms, it was wrong, what you did. it is wrong. it is time, mr. president, for you to end this.
i know you really don't care if it is cruel. i know you do not care if it is immoral. but guess what. one thing you do care about, it is not popular. remember that. wcannot make a call to your conscience, to your soul, to who you are, then we make the other call for the children. to say the american people -- we are ashamed of the actions of this president. but i am proud of the american people that are standing with the children at the border. [applause] i have never been prouder, and never known the exceptionalism of being an american than this weekend as people went everywhere across this country to lift the flag for the children. let us do this for the children that come to our borders.
lastly, we met with secretary johnson. we went in 2015. you and i, we went to san antonio and we went to visit where children and parents, mothers, were being held together as they applied -- made their asylum cases. that does happen. people come and make an asylum and they are held in detention until such time as their asylum petition can be clarified. to the secretary of homeland security. there.e this is what secretary jeh johnson when we made the petition, he said, i will never -- i will resign as head of homeland security before i separate those children from their mothers. that was the american way of doing things. this it and bush did
it, no they did not. a man like jeh johnson would refuse to carry out such an order. and indeed applied the flores decree resettlement and said no longer than 20 days when any child beheld in detention. let's go back to a time of sanity and decency in america, when children were respected. love the children. mr. president, be a dad for once. [applause] >> thank you representative nadler. i am an immigrant and if the statue of liberty could cry, she would cry today. america is a nation founded by people fleeing persecution. we are a nation of immigrants. ronald reagan called us that shining city upon the hill. unfortunately, donald trump has perverted our grand history,
turned our great nation into a small, xena phobic -- x enophobic, ugly place to be. this is not us. we face a lot of threats. babies are not one of them. we know donald trump's administration set up baby jails for babies ripped away from their mothers and fathers. 19 days ago i wrote a letter to secretary nielsen asking her basic questions. how do you make sure children are not placed with child molesters? how do we make sure we unite babies back with their parents? she has not been able to answer those very basic questions. at the end of the day, america is a religious country. whether you believe in the god of your choice or no god at all, you can come to the same conclusion that ripping babies away from their parents is evil. i am christian. everything this administration is doing with this policy violates the teachings of
christ. today is world refugee day. it wld be good day for donald trump to reverse this policy. [applause] >> thank you. >> thank you so much to our ranking member nadler for your leadership and determination to speak out. thank you leader pelosi and thank you to the colleagues who have been going across the country and visiting detention centers. 10 days ago i visited the prison, the federal prison just south of seattle where over 200 immigrants from the texas border have been transferred to a federal prison. i met with 174 women. there were 206 people total. 32 men i will be meeting with this saturday. i met with the 174 women and let me tell you, they cried every time they talked about their children.
their children were as young as one-year-old. the majority of them had been in detention for weeks in multiple facilities, not a one of them had spoken to their children since being in detention. 40% had been held for over a month. these women talked about being deceived, never having a chance to say goodbye. i am a mother. i am a proud immigrant, too. i can tell you the story this president is trying to tell the american people about who was coming across the border are false. we are all seeking a better life for our families and our children. the women i spoke to talked about why they left. and why, by the way, deterrence is not only illegal, but it is ineffective. because the situations they are leaving are so tragic. one woman, her eldest child was
shot and killed by gangs. her second child, shot and paralyzeby gangs. she made the difficult decision to leave that second child and to bring the third child to the united states of america to seek safety for the one child who had not been shot yet. another woman who left her blind child at home and brought another child here. she knew the blind child would not be able to make the journey. she made the tragic choice a mother would make to try to save one. these are the people we are talking about. when the president tries to equateight -- tries to these people with people who are trying to destroy the country, i can tell you he is not telling
the truth. this president, let us be very clear, has been using immigrants to try to gin up political sentiment. but i think the american people understand as their hearts are breaking, republicans and democrats across the country whose hearts are breaking, our arts are also opening and people are standing up across the country and saying, this is not about politics. this is about right and wrong. mr. president, we don't need legislation. we don't need an executive order. what we need for you is to call jeff sessions, tell him to stop this abuse. that is what needs to happen. [applause] i am proud to sponsor this legislation because we democrats refuse to hold children hostage. we refuse to cave to what the president is doing and what he has said he is doing. which is that he is willing to use children, babies
breast-feeding at their mother's breast, children as young as one, he wants to use those children to get anti-immigrant provisions. we will not have it. this is a targeted bill. it is a specific bill. if you want congress to pass a bill, this ithe bill republicans and democrats should sign and make sure we reunite our families. that's what i told e mewe would do. and i promised them i would tell everybody that i spoke to that america is with them. not with the president, with them. we are proud to stand up for these families and for these children. with a that it is my honor to introduce representative panetta. reppo panetta -- >> thank you. thank you leader nadler, leader pelosi, all of the democrats who cosponsor this bill, all of the democrats behind me and all of you as well as a senator dianne
feinstein for her leadership on the companio in n bille senate. my name is jimmy panetta, i esent the central coast of california, 20th congressional district. before i was a representative i was a prosecutor for 20 years. i was a gang prosecutor for five of those. i can tell you right now that these babies and children, these mothers and fathers staying at these facilities, they are not gang members. i can also tell you that as a prosecutor, we understood early on that you do not just do what is right by the law. you must do what is right by the people affected by the law. whenever you are in a position to enforce the law, that means you must use your discretion, you must use your compassion, and you must use your common sense.
that is why the administration's zero-tolerance policy at the border, which forcibly separates children from their mothers and fathers, is compassionless. it reeks of vindictiveness. and it is absolutely senseless. that is why the president should and can fix it. that is why we are here today standing against it. it is why past presidents did not enforce it. it is why our first ladies are in opposition. it is why christians, catholics, and evangelicals are speaking out. it is why democrats and republicans want to fix it. it is why we are presenting today this legislation that does that. the keep families together act promotes family unity, not separation. it is a straightforward fix for families who are fleeing a nightmare situation so that they can live the american dream.
that is why we are here. we are here to let the president know that his policy, although it has stained the presidency, this common sense piece of legislation that keeps families together will prevent his policy from staining our nation and the values this country stands for. thank you. [applause] >> representative yvette clarke. let me start by thanking ler and leader nad pelosi and all of my colleagues who stand united against this atrocity. my name is yvette clarke. i represent the ninth district of new york, that is brooklyn, new york, and i serve as the member at large for the congressional black caucus.
i want to express outrage, utter dismay, over what donald trump has termed the zero tolerance policy at the southern border. it is interesting to see tt all of a sudden he has received a level of consciousness is now -- and now he wants to issue an executive order. what will we say to the children who have been hurt so badly by his actions and who will forever be scarred by having been separated from their parents, and you may never see their parents again? we do not know. this policy has cruelly torn more than 2000 children away from their parents and is an affront to the very values, the core essence of who we are as a nation and what we hold dear. in contrast to what the administration claims, it is not a holdover of the obama era. it is not required by law.
it is not justified in the bible. [applause] in fact, as a christian, i know verse jeffry same sessions quotes to defend this policy were also used to justify the horrendous chapter of chattel slavery in our nation. i call on the so-called party of family values to reject the inhumane policy and to support the keeping families together act. i close by reminding us that the same bible that has been quoted reminds us to embrace and support the stranger and to always fight crookedness in high places. [applause]
>> i will introduce leader nancy pelosi. >> i want to thank ranking member nadler for his leadership and his coment to american families. so many of our colleagues are parents. i have five children. some are grandparents as well. the idea that they would give official -- to snatching babies from their parents is so unchristian in their view of things. that is why his holiness the pope, the national conference of catholic bishops, the evangelical immigration table, all of these organizations have come out against the president's policy. it is wrong.
anybody who advocates to do it is doing the wrong thing. we will not stand for it. this is one manifestation of speaking out. these mothers took a risk. took their children across the desert because at home they would've been killed or rate or subjected to gang or domestic violence. the american evangelical association has said that america's refugee program is the crown jewel of american humanitarianism. the -- what the president is doing is the reverse. it is the worst that our country could possibly offer. mr. president, do the right thing. this is so wrong, and there is something wrong with someone who would advocate for it. i think my colleagues again.
i thank you all for joining us today. [applause] people that remind when the attorney general sites that biblical passage that you should always obey the government, besides that passage being used to support slavery, m and other things, the fact is this country was founded by revolutionaries. we fought a revolution against a king who asserted the divine right of kings spaced on that passage. this country is based on the consent of the governed, not the consent of the king. do governed in this country not consent to a policy of caring children away from their parents. we do not consent to a policy of inhumanity, we do not consent to a policy of punishing refugees from violence and persecution by separating them from their children. the president can stop it with a phone call.
he should, and this legislation will stop it if he does not want to make that phone call. thank you very much. [applause] >> will the democrats support the vote tomorrow? >> if it is good policy yes, if it is bad policy, no. it is cloaked in bad provisions that hurt families. no. we are not taking questions.
>> president trump signed an executive order designed to keep immigrant families together who have been detained at the u.s.-mexico border. mike pence, who appeared with the president, said the order would enable families to stay together, but added it is up to congress to come up with a more permanent solution. homeland security secretary kristjen nielsen was also there.