Durbin: Failure To Reunite Separated Children Is A Toxic Mix Of Cruelty & Incompetency

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on his Senate colleagues to oppose President Donald Trump’s cruel efforts to indefinitely detain migrant children.  Durbin’s speech on the Senate floor comes one day after a federal district court’s deadline for reuniting children under the age of five that were separated from their parents under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy.  

Yesterday, the Trump administration notified the court that it had identified 102 separated children under the age of five – and that only four of these 102 children were reunited with their parents before the deadline.  The Administration acknowledged it only has plans to reunite about half of these children, that they have made no effort to contact 12 parents who the government deported, and they can’t even identify the parent of one toddler.  We still do not know the fate of thousands of other children who are supposed to be reunited by July 26, 2018. 

"In the midst of the world’s worst refugee crisis, they [Trump Administration] want to make the situation for families fleeing persecution as painful as possible in order to deter them from seeking safe haven,” Durbin said.  “Let me be clear: this Senator will do everything in his power to stop legislation that would authorize the Trump Administration to lock up migrant children in jail.  It is immoral.  It is shameful.  It is un-American.  I call on my colleagues – Republicans and Democrats – join me in opposing the Trump Administration’s cruel immigration policy.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have condemned Trump’s child separation policy.  The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics called it, “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

Two weeks ago, Durbin wrote to President Trump and called on him to immediately announce his intention to fully comply with a federal district court’s order to return children separated under his Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to their parents within 30 days, and within 14 days for children under age five, and to regularly update Congress on his progress towards meeting the court’s deadlines.  Durbin has yet to receive a response to his letter.

In March, Durbin and 23 of his Senate colleagues pressed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Inspector General to investigate allegations that DHS is separating the children of asylum-seekers from their parents.  This request followed reports of the case of a seven-year-old girl and her mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who were separated for more than four months after they presented themselves at the U.S. border and sought protection in accordance with the law.