Durbin Meets with DHS Secretary & White House Chief of Staff to Discuss Central American Refugee Crisis

Calls on Administration to halt deportations of mothers and children fleeing violence in Northern Triangle region

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to discuss America’s response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. During the meeting, Durbin expressed concerns over current policy classifying refugee women and children from Central America as immigration enforcement priorities due to their date of arrival in the United States. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) also attended the meeting.
“We face a humanitarian crisis in our hemisphere, and we have a responsibility to respond in a manner that lives up to our American values,” said Durbin. “It is within our power to keep innocent women and children out of harm’s way by preventing their return to three of the most dangerous countries in the world. In order to address this crisis, the Administration must first put an end to the deportation of vulnerable groups and Congress must work together to address the violence and instability that forces families to flee their homes.”
Senators Durbin and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently led a group of 26 Senate Democrats in calling for an end to deportation raids targeting families and unaccompanied minors from Central America’s Northern Triangle. In a letter, the senators urged President Obama to ensure due process rights for vulnerable individuals from that region and to designate Guatemala and re-designate El Salvador and Honduras for temporary protected status (TPS).
Last month, Durbin co-sponsored legislation that seeks to address the root causes of the refugee crisis at the southern border. The Secure the Northern Triangle Act also calls for increased refugee processing in the countries of origin in an effort to keep families and unaccompanied children from embarking on a dangerous journey to the United States.