News from Representative DeGette

       

Dear Friend,

Thanks to vigorous and sustained public outcry, President Trump halted his administration’s campaign of family separation this week. But he didn't go far enough in ending and atoning for the cruelty that he and his cronies so callously defended. This means we must continue fighting -- even harder -- to keep the pressure on this administration to keep families together. That’s one reason I’m visiting the Southwestern U.S. border today and Saturday. 

The forced separation of thousands of families, many of them seeking asylum, will surely go down as one of our nation’s most shameful chapters. America has long been a beacon of hope to people around the world seeking security and belonging, but we must now acknowledge the self-induced refugee crisis in this country stemming from this administration’s bigotry and anti-immigrant hysteria.

I have long worked to highlight and end family separation, sending a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen expressing concerns over the brand new practice back in February. As the crisis worsened since then, I continued my work to put a stop to it. This week I was proud to co-sponsor the Keep Families Together Act (H.R. 6135), which would stop the DHS from continuing this cruel campaign that has only served to traumatize people who need humanitarian relief.

 

I also demanded this week that Nielsen resign or be fired over family separation and her repeated misleading statements about the policy and its impact. Last Sunday, she tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” The very next day she deflected blame for the humanitarian crisis at a press briefing. Her complete lack of understanding of the law, total insensitivity to the plight of these families and blatant disregard for facts make her unfit to serve the public in this or any capacity.

I also joined my fellow Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee in sending a letter to Chairman Greg Walden and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess demanding a hearing on the more than 2,000 children being placed in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a result of the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy. These shelters are reportedly operating at 95 percent capacity, and it’s not clear whether ORR has adequate resources to care for these kids. I stressed the need for this hearing last Friday, and I urge Republican leaders of the committee to follow through with our request.

On Thursday, fellow House Democrats, leading immigration advocates, and a group of children symbolic of those being ripped from their parents took part in an event to demand an end to family separation. Hours later, President Trump issued an Executive Order intended to suspend the this heinous practice. Through this vague directive, it’s clear the president heard the cries of the public while remaining deaf to those of the vulnerable, as it offers no clear path to family reunification. I would call on him to examine his conscience and go further to safeguard these people, but he is unredeemable. Instead, we should demand accountability for ensuring that the families ripped apart are reunited and block the administration’s effort to put those families who will now remain together behind fences, locked doors and even the gates of military bases as they await a decision on their applications for asylum. And Congress should immediately pass the Keep Families Together Act to forever prevent such atrocities from being committed in our country’s name

Instead of bringing this vital legislation up for a vote, House Republicans considered one imbalanced immigration bill on Thursday and punted the vote on another one until next week. The first was a hardline proposal introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte that offered little salvation to these families at the border as well as Dreamers. Next week’s offering is a so-called “compromise” bill that presents a deal with the Devil – a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for funding for the president’s needless and costly border wall. I voted against the first measure and will do so again next week if the second isn’t substantially improved. We must do far better in to enact real, compassionate change.

I will help continue and strengthen this momentum while in McAllen, Texas, with colleagues this weekend to witness this campaign first-hand. We are observing government authorities in action and visiting children affected by the family separation campaign; we’ll bear witness and bring to light the ways in which the Trump administration is harming vulnerable families. Keeping the pressure on will help our efforts to prevent it from ever happening again. I look forward to sharing with you what I learn.

I also want to thank constituents who have passionately condemned this policy through phone calls to my office, emails and comments on my social media. Your grave concern over the welfare of these families and respect for their inherent humanity represent the western values I am proud to bring to Washington as your representative in Congress. I will continue to fight against this administration’s attacks on these core principles on your behalf.

As always, you can visit my website, where you can read my positions on issues and learn about the different ways my staff can assist you. While you’re there, be sure to visit the “Contact” page and send me an email about what matters most to you and your family. Finally, be sure to share this email with your friends, family, and neighbors so that they too can be a part of this important dialogue.

Sincerely,

Diana DeGette
Member of Congress

 

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