Rep. Maloney speaks at a rally outside of the Elizabeth, NJ detention center after meeting with fathers who were separated from their families at the border.
Yesterday, as families across the nation were celebrating Father’s Day with their families and friends, I visited an ICE detention center in Elizabeth, NJ with several other Members of Congress. We met with fathers who had their children taken away from them under the Trump Administration's cruel and inhumane family separation policy.
Once inside, we talked with five fathers, each with his own heartbreaking story of being separated from his family and having their children ripped away from them. They had received no information on their children since being detained and had no idea what had happened to their kids. We arrived at the detention center at 9am on Sunday. At first, ICE officials refused to allow us in, but we made it clear that we were not going awaywhere. After nearly two hours of delays and stalling tactics, including papering over windows so we couldn't see inside, we were finally allowed in.
We demanded that ICE get them updates and now the agency is promising to find out where these men's children are and give them updates, but I am horrified that they don't already have that information.
These men came to the United States with their families seeking freedom from fear and violence.
They fled their homes because of gang violence with the hope that asylum in America would keep their families safe. Instead of finding safety, they saw their children dragged away from them, causing irreparable trauma. One man broke down while telling us his story.
This “zero tolerance” policy from President Trump and Attorney General Sessions is cruel, inhumane, and blatantly un-American. This country has a proud history of being a safe harbor and beacon of light for the world’s oppressed and threatened peoples. President Trump’s decision to act with cruelty instead of compassion is an affront to our values and what this country should stand for.
This is not who we should be.
That is why I am sponsoring a bill to end this policy and am demanding hearings to hold this Administration accountable. In the meantime, this week, the Democratic Women’s Working Group will hold our own shadow hearing in Congress to keep the pressure on since our Republican colleagues refuse to do so officially.
Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress