Message from Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley:
Thank you all for coming out today!
For generations, one of the best-known symbols of our country, the Statue of Liberty, has shined as a beacon to the world’s downtrodden. Inscribed on her base are the words:
“From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome…
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teaming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
But over the past several weeks, the world has watched America turn its back on those words and shut that golden door. Under the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, families along our southern border—the tired, poor, tempest-tost, fleeing violence and persecution—have been met with inhumane cruelty as children are ripped from the arms of their parents.
We have all seen the photos of the cages, the floor mats, the Mylar space blankets at the processing center in McAllen, Texas. We have seen the images of six young boys sharing rooms meant for four at the Brownsville detention center. We have listened to the recording of young children wailing for their parents. We have read the heart-wrenching stories of desperate parents who have no idea where their children are, nor when or if they might see them again.
To justify his cruel policy, President Trump has presented the American people with a false choice: Either you are for closing off our borders and inflicting harm on innocent children as a deterrent to the world’s asylum-seekers; or you are for completely open borders, thereby risking the lives of the innocent Americans.
That is just wrong. That is a false choice. And this false choice is insulting to the American people.
Through President Trump’s misinformation and false choices, Americans said loud and clear, this is what we know: We know that that is not who we are as Americans. We know that we do not use cruelty, especially against innocent children, as a weapon. We know that we are better than that.
That’s why over the past few weeks, public outrage grew to a point that even President Trump could not ignore. It was that public outcry—YOUR voices, YOUR action, YOUR pressure—that forced President Trump to sign an executive order halting his cruel policy—a policy that his team said did not exist, and that he claimed Congress alone had the power to end.
But this story of cruelty and terror did not end with the president’s executive order. In fact, that order has created even more chaos in its wake. Thousands of children are still separated from their parents, with no plan to reunite them. And the administration’s “zero-humanity” policy might now be replaced by “Handcuffs for All,” as the Trump Administration now proposes to throw entire families in jail, possibly on military bases and in internment camps out in the desert.
Once again, we need YOUR voices, YOUR action, YOUR pressure to send a clear message to the president and his administration: Like “zero-humanity,” we will not let “Handcuffs for All” stand. Our top priority needs to be ending this unnecessary cruelty and reuniting thousands of girls and boys with their parents. We must put these families back together and give them the opportunity to make their case for asylum. We must restore the vision of Lady Liberty.