Congress Holds Hearing on Situation at the Border
June 11, 2019
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing to examine the refugee crisis at U.S. – Mexico border. The key witness will be Acting Director of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan. During the hearing, McAleenan is expected to call for: increasing border militarization; stripping away the rights of children from Central America to seek asylum; making it more difficult for families to assert a claim to asylum; and dramatically expanding family detention.
This Administration has already taken unpresented steps to dismantle our asylum system, going as far as separating children from their parents with full knowledge of the harm this inflicts on children and families. Tragically, at least six children have died in federal custody in the past year due to lack of access to healthcare. It was recently revealed that 37 children were locked in vans for up to 39 hours in a parking lot of a detention center outside Port Isabel, Texas. Further, the private prisons this Administration desperately seeks to expand to house immigrant families have come under continued criticism for their dangerous conditions. Just last week the Inspector General Department of Homeland Security found “egregious” health and safety violations at four major ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) facilities.
None of this is surprising given immigration was President Trump’s signature issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. His racist attack on immigrants, symbolized by the call to “build the wall”, set the stage for the policies his Administration is currently pursuing. The scapegoating of immigrants and asylum seekers will only increase as we head into the 2020 campaign.
Sacred scripture instructs people of faith about how we should treat migrants. We are called to “release those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke.” (Isaiah 58) We must “Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:16-21) This is not a political issue for the faith community, it is a matter of justice.
Acting Secretary McAleenan, let us be clear: NETWORK and our interfaith partners reject your false choice between chaos and compassion. It is wrong to use a humanitarian crisis to shred laws protecting vulnerable families seeking asylum. It is wrong to cage children and families in indefinite detention. It is wrong to strip protections for children that keep them safe and healthy.
These actions are cruel and unjust. We will continue to call for justice for our immigrant family.