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Sen. Merkley speaks on immigration policy and refugees
Senator Jeff Merkley speaks on immigration policy and refugees meeting with ICE detainees.
Democrat-legislature of Oregon, visited immigrant detainees on Saturday leveled harsh criticism at the justice Department, the “zero-tolerance” – limit policy, saying it “makes zero sense and shows zero understanding of American values.”
U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer spoke to reporters after a visit to a federal detention center in the state, where they met with people detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Tomorrow is #FathersDay and we talked with the fathers, which had to be torn from their children, as they tried to seek asylum. This is a stain on our nation. to hear @realDonaldTrump & @Jeff sessions needs to Americans across the country and put an end to this cruel policy. #KeepFamiliesTogether pic.twitter.com/kK562CyEPD
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) 17. June 2018
The prisoners are not to be handled properly, such as asylum seekers, which the legislature says.
Merkley said the immigrants came from different countries, and, among other things, fleeing political and religious persecution, as well as “the impact of organized crime.”
It was “a lot of concerns about the legal representation,” Merkley added, indicating that many of the detainees get, talk to a lawyer.
The immigrants were also have difficulties, contact family members, including their children, he said.
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The separation of the children of immigrants, drawn by their parents to the limit, a good part of the criticism, the orientation of the policy initiated last month by state attorney General Jeff Sessions. The policy says that every adult, of the entry of the United States is illegal, will be prosecuted.
US Protocol does not allow that their children not be detained with their parents, because they accused other than their mothers and fathers, of a crime.
In the prison there was also a “lack of translators,” said Merkley, and a feeling of “uncertainty”.
“Many of them, almost all of them had no information about what comes next, so a lot of uncertainty and stress that comes from that,” the senator said, adding that the detainees are “basically in limbo.”
He later explained that the Trump administration would be the justification for the policy is “morally bankrupt.”
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Wyden told reporters that what the group saw “in the last few hours shows that the Trump zero-tolerance-power politics zero sense and shows zero understanding of American values.”
@SenJeffMerkley, @RepBonamici and @repblumenauer and I saw in Sheridan Federal prison shows, that the trump of the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy makes zero sense and shows zero understanding of American values. #Family belong together pic.twitter.com/zWCLlYigQ0
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) 17. June 2018
After the conversation with the prisoners, including an individual, separate from a child younger than 2 years old, Wyden said he left “with a feeling”, that “the detainee’s rights are rights in name only.”
“America and Oregon are better than this. We are better than this,” Wyden. “We had in America, a system in which we examine the specifics of the individual circumstances. Views of the case, is there a statement of law, we will follow that up. But not only the lump and dump. And this is my feeling, what this policy is.”
The immigration policy will not be enforced by the administration “is what we stand for, such as the United States of America,” Bonamici told reporters. She said the detainees, the “earn in fear of their lives” more than how you treated me.
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“As a mother to listen, not to talk to the fathers to not know, to know where their children are, where your spouse or partner is, and to not know if you speak with a lawyer if you receive medical care, it is devastating and completely unacceptable,” Bonamici said.
Most of the prisoners I today, asylum-seekers are met by the end of it, fleeing from violent gangs, or religious persecution. Only a few had access to lawyers & some in need of medical care, but did not get it. They told us that they are in small cells for up to 23 hours of the day. #EndFamilySeparation
— Suzanne Bonamici (@RepBonamici) 17. June 2018
Sometimes emotional statement, Blumenauer said, “this is a shameful moment in our history.”
“The idea that we are followed gonna the criminalization, and we are trying gonna and force it by pulling the children from their families and sending them to God knows where … it’s disgusting,” he said. “And I don’t think so, no matter whether you are Republican or Democrat, what do you think about immigration, whether we have too much or not enough, no one should like children.”
He later added that the immigration policy “struck a nerve” and had the potential to be, “the help, some of my Republican friends to grow a spine and stand up to Donald Trump.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.