Photo Courtesy of Sen. Gillibrand’s Office
Senator Gillibrand characterized the DHS border policy as “the kind of thing we read about in a history book and shake our heads at in disgust.”
By Forum Staff
United States Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Friday unveiled the Keep Families Together Act, which aims to immediately stop the Department of Homeland Security from taking children from their parents at the border.
“This cruel, inhumane policy is the kind of thing we read about in a history book and shake our heads at in disgust, and I have no doubt that it will traumatize a generation of children, who will never forget for the rest of their lives that when they arrived in the United States, the government took them from their parents,” Gillibrand said. “Congress must step in now and immediately halt the separation of children from their families at the border, and I will fight as hard as I can with my colleagues to pass this urgently needed legislation.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last month that all adults who arrive at the border would be prosecuted for illegal entry, even if they attempt to seek asylum. This policy, according to Gillibrand, has resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents when they arrive in the United States. At a May 24 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, CBP informed senators that 658 children were taken from 638 parents during a 14-day period in May – an average of 47 children being taken from their parents each day.
Gillibrand noted that the KFTA allows children to be separated from their parents only in the event that they are being trafficked or abused by their parents. The bill also provides for an immediate review by a superior upon the recommendation to separate, and only after consultation with a child welfare expert.
“The United States must not be a country that traumatizes young children by separating them from their parents. Young children have been taken from their parents’ arms and federal law enforcement hasn’t given parents even the most basic information about their children’s whereabouts,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of 31 co-sponsors of Gillibrand’s measure. “Congress has a moral obligation to take a stand and say that families should not be forcibly separated. Many of these families are fleeing terrible violence, traveling thousands of miles on foot for the chance to file an asylum claim and save their lives. To traumatize them further is unconscionable, and I hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to put an end to this immoral policy.”
Gillibrand also noted that KFTA was developed in consultation with child welfare experts to ensure that the federal government is acting in the best interest of children.