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House Members Challenge Trump Administration’s Treatment of Immigrant Children

Published on Monday, November 2, 2020 | 11:04 am
Judy Chu

Three members of the House — including Pasadena congresswomen Judy Chu and L.A. area congresswomen Karen Bass plus Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island — accused the Trump Administration today of waging a war on immigrants, perpetrating an atrocity and willfully inflicting permanent psychological damage on unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their homelands by expelling them at the border without affording them due process.

Chu said: “Once again, this administration is endangering children as part of its war on immigrants. Lacking a real immigration policy, this administration is instead making a show of detaining and deporting children who are fleeing violence or abuse without due process as is required. Worse, there is ample evidence that the Trump Administration’s disregard for child welfare is harming development, retraumatizing children seeking asylum, and in some cases, even resulting in their deaths.

“If this policy is being done with an eye towards the law and child welfare, then DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) should be able to demonstrate that by responding to our requests … However, as with the earlier separation of immigrant families and subsequent imprisonment of immigrant children, all evidence indicates that this policy is another way to spread fear of immigrants and is harming children — perhaps for life. That is why we demand that this administration must immediately abandon this cruel policy, stick to the requirements in the Flores Agreement, and allow these children a fair screening to assess their claim for asylum. Child abuse must not be the policy of the United States.”

The Flores Agreement was reached by immigration activist groups and the Clinton Administration in 1997 and much later enshrined into a consent decree.

Bass said in her statement that “The gross violations of child welfare principles perpetrated by this administration are unacceptable. To use a pandemic that is out of control due to the administration’s negligence as an excuse to further traumatize refugees is despicable. As we state in our letter, children pursuing refuge in the United States are, above all else, children. The permanent psychological damage caused by these callous actions must be accounted for.”

Langevin said that “time and again, the Trump Administration has treated immigrants arriving in the United States with callous disregard. The most recent atrocity of summarily expelling immigrants, including asylum seekers and children, under the guise of public health only adds to the severe trauma they have experienced. Particularly for children, this inhumane treatment can disrupt their development and have far-reaching effects later in life. The President and his Administration are willfully putting children in danger not to protect the public health, but to further their own anti-immigrant agenda.”

Chus, Bass and Langevin and 55 other members of the House on Friday sent the heads of the Department of Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control a letter demanding an end the Trump Administration’s expulsion of unaccompanied children at the border without due process, Chu’s office reported today.

The letter sent to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and CDC Director Robert Redfield demanded an end to the administration’s expulsion of unaccompanied children at the border without due process. It also asks for answers about how the expulsions were implemented, who the children are, if the children are being tested for COVID-19, and if the children’s welfare and development are being protected, according to a statement from Chu’s office.

There was no immediate response from the administration.

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