The actions of the current administration have had me incensed practically from the time they took office. The depths to which they wish to descend appear to have few if any limits. However, with the current action being taken against immigrants coming here to evade the violence which permeates their homelands, Trump and Sessions have found a whole new low to live down. With that in mind, the following has been sent to Congresswoman Marcia Fudge and Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman:
Having seen the actions of Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions in separating the families of undocumented immigrants in a fashion I must describe as inhuman and draconian, I call upon you to support and pass the Keep Families Together Act, which has been introduced by Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. If Trump and Sessions want to claim either that the law or the bible support their heinous actions, that excuse should be taken off the table, and they should be bound by legislation which is not just humane but far more in keeping with the traditions which the United States maintained before the current administration.
This treatment of people who come to our country for help is inexcusable and must be stopped. I ask you to call a halt to it through the means you have with the power of the office you hold. Please do so.
If you wish, please feel free to use this text in your own messages to your representatives. This travesty at our borders has to stop.
Great minds think alike! :) I'm not finding Mark Warner and Tim Kaine's bill, but I just posted in the group comments about the strong "Keep Families Together Act" introduced a week and a half ago by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
My Democratic senator is already one of 39 cosponsors; there are (surprise, surprise!) no Republican cosponsors, in the now-familiar "party above values, party above country" pattern for things that should not be goddamned partisan issues! (No holy.*) I gave both my senators' offices an earful, appropriate to their position or lack thereof.
* Borrowing "no holy" from Courtney Heard who blogs as Godless Mom. "It’s my way of taking back and belittling the use of “no homo” by homophobes everywhere. It means that when I say stuff like, “good god” or “god’s green earth” I am not actually referring to a deity or any belief; that I have just used the god-injected phrase as a figure of speech and nothing more."
Thanks; it looks like we're talking about the same bill, where Senators Warner and Kaine were indeed among the original cosponsors (i.e. most of the Senate Democrats and independents, with Rethuglicans glaringly absent).
S. 3036 at congress.gov (primary source)
S. 3036 at govtrack.us (a "value-added" site I find useful, with information on committees, votes, and congresscritters' ideology and leadership scores, determined automatically by analysis of their bill cosponsorship patterns. The home page lets you find your legislators, either by address or, using the "I'm at home" link, through your computer's or phone's location.)
The bill sets specific criteria where removing a child from their parents is allowed, like in cases of individual findings of trafficking or danger of abuse or neglect. Some other noteworthy bits from the bill text:
An agency may not remove a child from a parent or legal guardian solely for the policy goal of deterring individuals from migrating to the United States or for the policy goal of promoting compliance with civil immigration laws.
[This seems to intentionally apply to any agency, not just the "designated agencies" -- DHS, Justice, HHS -- that the rest of the bill deals with.]
(1) FAMILY UNITY.—There shall be a strong presumption in favor of family unity.
(2) SIBLINGS.—To the maximum extent practicable, the Secretary shall ensure that sibling groups remain intact.
(3) DETENTION.—In general, there is a presumption that detention is not in the best interests of families and children.
The Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall provide each parent or legal guardian who was separated, with written notice of the public guidance to locate a separated child.
All guidance shall be available in English and Spanish, and at the request of the parent or legal guardian, in the language or manner that is understandable by the parent or legal guardian.
(edit) I added a few more details. This is a bare minimum of what civilized societies do. Can our current government live up to that standard?
BTW, on govtrack.us, you can also react to bills with various emoji, and if you reopen the page in private or incognito browsing mode, you can vote multiple times. :)
I'm glad to see that the bill got more cosponsors last week and especially yesterday. It's now sponsored by every Democratic and independent senator -- and no Republicans. (What's wrong with that picture? What makes tearing families apart a partisan issue?!!)
If your senator is a late addition, or an original cosponsor, it would be good to thank them.
Does the Senate have a process where Democrats could use a discharge petition to force the bill out of the Judiciary Committee, if Rethugicans block it?
A civilized nation would pass a bill like this in a heartbeat, unanimously, or at the very least by a veto-proof majority!
The Democratic bill still needs to be enacted, even with Trump's executive order today "pausing" the separation of families. And we need stronger protections for people seeking asylum or immigration, as well.
The executive order gives the U.S. military responsibility for housing families being detained together. As David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement puts it: "In a sense, these families will become President Trump's prisoners of war."
The executive order does not end the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border illegally, even if they apply for asylum.
So even assuming that all of the detained children separated from their parents are reunited with them, we will have merely moved from Nazi concentration camps to Japanese-American internment camps where families are detained indefinitely.
Bea Bischoff writes at Slate about detaining families: “Legal and medical experts have long criticized family detention centers on the grounds that they are dangerous, inhumane, and limit the ability of families to prepare their cases for asylum in the United States... Those inside detention have access only to legal providers who serve that detention center, who are often few and far between, and detained families are frequently unable to gather pertinent evidence for their cases from behind bars. Health advocates have decried family detention centers as causing post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems.”
That's just one of the reasons that Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's so-called "Protect Kids and Parents Act" (apparently S. 3091), just introduced, is unacceptable. It might seem "reasonable" at first glance (as with many cruel bills!) with its provisions for detaining families together and for asylum decisions within 14 days, if you don't know anything about the process. But as Bischoff writes:
“The imposition of such a time frame would be an incredibly sinister move. Even the most competent attorney needs weeks to prepare a robust asylum case. The court filings alone regularly number in the thousands of pages, and attorneys need time to gather evidence and documents from the client’s country of origin.”
“The practical effect of Cruz’s bill would be a system where families are detained, held in deplorable conditions that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year to maintain, and deported after they are unable to develop robust asylum cases in a mere 14 days.”
“His proposed bill is an attempt to convert nationwide disgust with family separation into dangerous, anti-immigrant legislation. If Cruz were really concerned with the welfare of children... he wouldn’t have a problem crossing the aisle to support Dianne Feinstein’s proposed bill... Instead, he’s trying to undercut the already-scant legal protections currently in place for detained children and asylum-seekers... Cruz’s bill is... a cynical ploy, one that uses vulnerable children as a bargaining chip.”
(ellipses and bolding mine)
Your argument is well taken, Grinning Cat. Especially the parts about immigrants becoming prisoners of war and the horrible 14 day decision part.
I had one experience with the nasty ploy to rush decisions within bureaucratic systems in order to silently sabotage the overt purpose of that system.
Years ago I was assaulted by a student at the public school where I was teaching, and received eye damage. I had to rush to get emergency care. I was required to go through the process of claiming worker's compensation, before insurance would touch the bill. The day it happened, shortly after the assault, I called in the claim information as instructed. Then I had to fill out a lengthy form and submit documents and wait for a decision. Later, a representative told me that my claim had been turned down within five minutes of my call, before they even sent the forms I had to complete. Their policy was to immediately reject all claims unless the person was hospitalized, forcing you to go to court (implying people would be forced to give half of what they'd be awarded to cover your bills to some lawyer). When I asked why, she said a speedy decision was my right.
So yes, Ryan's bill is nefarious and disgusting.
Ruth, I'm sorry to hear both that you were assaulted and injured, and that the school system's worker's comp system upheld your "right" to a speedy denial of your claim. Literally adding insult to injury!
The parallel between your experience and Ryan's bill is definitely something our senators need to hear.
Sabotaging families' bids for legal status makes even more sense (for cruel, inhumane, and Rethuglican values of "sense") in light of this article:
1 year ago, Trump got rid of a wildly successful immigration program that didn’t lock people up: The Trump administration is pretending it didn't have a choice to separate families.
(Alan Pyke, June 21, 2018, ThinkProgress)
"ICE’s Family Case Management Program (FCMP) pilot ... served roughly the same population currently targeted by Trump’s zero-tolerance policy: Adults with children who claim asylum but enter the country in between official U.S. ports.
Even though FCMP was delivering a higher compliance rate than other “alternatives to detention” ... and doing so at a fraction of the cost of keeping people locked up pending trial, Trump’s ICE leaders pulled the plug.
The reason? Too many families turned out to have legitimate arguments for obtaining legal status in the U.S. Though Trump and his loyal GOP colleagues now insist family detention is necessary because people won’t show up for court otherwise, the FCMP was delivering near-perfect compliance from immigrant families – it just wasn’t getting enough of them deported."