Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ron Wyden | Families Belong Together

June 30, 2018
The Trump administration's inhumane policy of tearing children out of their parents' arms at our border goes against our basic humanitarian values as Americans. I witnessed the impact of this policy firsthand the day before Father's Day when I visited with asylum seekers at a detention facility in Sheridan. I met a father who had no idea where his 18-month-old baby was. Punishing families for risking everything to escape the violence and horror of their home countries — terrorizing innocent children that is not who we strive to be.
At the moment, we're working to get as many answers as possible about the well-being of these children. At a Senate Finance Committee hearing just this week, I pressed HHS Secretary Azar over these policies and he squirmed his way out of giving any answers that passed muster. I asked Secretary Azar two simple questions: how many children HHS has reunited with their parents or relatives, and how many parents have been told where their children are. The agency's process for notifying parents where their children are located seems to be to tell them to call a hotline or send an email.
That is just disconnected from reality. Most of these parents are being held in detention centers themselves. And news reports have indicated many parents are having problems getting through to the hotline and getting the information they need to find their kids.
Azar also gave me different answers as to how many children are in the agency's custody. That's completely unacceptable. Thankfully, we received welcome news earlier this week from a judge who issued an injunction that requires the administration to reunite families within 30 days. The administration has a lot of work to do to safely and securely reunite this families in the next 30 days. They must ensure the safety of these children while also protecting the privacy of their family members.
The bottom line is these parents - and the American people - still don't know how the Trump administration plans to protect and reunite the thousands of children the administration separated from their mothers and fathers.
In the coming days and weeks, I will fight tooth and nail to help protect children and asylum seekers and oppose the cruel and inhumane policies this administration has adopted.
Ron Wyden
                                      United States Senator