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Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Representing the 4th District of Illinois

“There Is A Certain Devious And Genuinely Cruel Kind Of Evil That’s Responsible For A Policy That Takes Children From Their Parents.”

June 13, 2018
Press Release
“We cannot sit back and let our government systematically ruin the lives of families and scar children for life. When we said ‘Never Again’ we meant it.”
Issues: 

Washington, DC – Today on the House floor, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), speaking about the Trump Administration policy to separate children from their parents at the border, told House Republicans that “There is a certain devious and genuinely cruel kind of evil that’s responsible for a policy that takes children from their parents.”  He said he would join advocates and other Members of Congress, including the Chairman of the Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley of New York, at a rally to protest the policy today at 1:30 pm ET at the headquarters of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Reagan Building in Washington.  The rally kicks off with a gathering at Freedom Plaza, across the street.

In his speech this morning, Rep. Gutiérrez said he and about a dozen colleagues wrote to the heads of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and the Attorney General last week demanding that the government stop the policy and demanding answers to questions about how many children have been taken, where they are being held, and how the government intends on reuniting them with their families.  A deadline to respond to the letter has passed and none of the three Trump Cabinet Secretaries have responded.  Hence the need for the protest today, which is being organized by CPD Action, affiliated with the Center for Responsive Democracy. 

A copy of the letter signed by 11 Members of Congress was submitted by Rep. Gutierrez to the Congressional Record and can be viewed here:  PDF iconMember of Congress Letter on Family Separation 6-8-18 FINAL.pdf

The Congressman said on the floor of the House:

The President and the Attorney General and others have said this is a national security strategy and that our national security depends on taking toddlers, infants and children—most of whom are under age 12 – from their parents.

But come on, really?  How does jailing a scared 8 year old who barely escaped with her life from Central America make me safer?  Well, it doesn’t.  The only person who might be safer because that 8 year old is in jail is a Member of the House running for reelection on a get-tough-on-immigrants platform.

Parents who have had their children taken have committed suicide while in government custody.  And their children are sometimes taken to facilities on the opposite end of the country from the parents are held. He said:

Imagine how you would feel if you had to walk from El Salvador to Texas to save the life of your son or daughter, only to wind up in detention.  Now imagine that a man in a uniform comes up to you and says, “Hey, we are going to take your child for a bath” and then hours go by and you realize, they are gone?

Can you imagine?  Can you sit quietly and do nothing when that how your tax dollars are being spent?  We are scarring these children for the rest of their lives.  We know this.  Taking children from their families and institutionalizing them at a young age will have consequences for that child and for this country and our tax-payers for the rest of their lives.

And while the Trump Administration is not providing details, the Congressman has heard reports that mass trials are taking place where the asylum claims of the parents are not heard, but are denied, and the parents are promptly deported.  He said:

Does the government then find the child in Chicago, or Detroit and send them back to their parents?  Who knows?  But probably not.  There is a certain devious and genuinely cruel kind of evil that’s responsible for a policy that takes children from their parents.  And they don’t expect anyone on the Republican side of the aisle to say anything because it is part of the plan to help you keep your job.

In inviting the public to today’s rally, the Congressman concluded by saying:

We cannot sit back and let our government systematically ruin the lives of families and scar children for life.  When we said “Never Again” we meant it.  Never again and that means here too.

A video of the Congressman’s remarks is here: https://youtu.be/u52cGMDozpw or  https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4735279/gutierrez-children-border-parents

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is the Dean of the Illinois delegation and a thirteen-term Member of Congress from Chicago.  He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Floor Remarks

June 13, 2018

Mr. Speaker, last week, a group of about a dozen of us wrote a letter to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General.

We demanded that the Trump Administration cease its practice of prosecuting asylum seekers, to reunite the children they separated from their families and to allow  Members of Congress to visit the facilities where the children are being held. 

We gave these three Trump Administration Cabinet Secretaries a deadline to get back to us and so far we have heard nothing.  Not a peep. 

So now we are trying to figure out how to make it clear to the Trump Administration and his agencies that taking children from the arms of moms and dads is absolutely, 100% unacceptable to us and a large percentage of the American people.

Let’s look at what is going on here.  In order to get more of you elected and reelected [pointing towards the Republicans], the President and his henchmen have devised an election-year strategy to be as mean and nasty as possible to asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees, Latinos and other people and the beneficiaries of that strategy, if there are any, are the people in this room on that side of the aisle.

The President and the Attorney General and others have said this is a national security strategy and that our national security depends on taking toddlers, infants and children—most of whom are under age 12 – from their parents.

But come on, really?  How does jailing a scared 8 year old who barely escaped with her life from Central America make me safer? 

Well, it doesn’t.  The only person who might be safer because that 8 year old is in jail is a Member of the House running for reelection on a get-tough-on-immigrants platform.

And it isn’t like they are taking these children from their parents and putting them on the other side of the jail – or the other side of the for-profit detention facility.

No.  They are taking that toddler, infant, or middle-school kid and taking them to a government facility somewhere else, maybe New York or Chicago or Seattle, thousands of miles away.

And we are hearing the most horrific stories.  Parents who have had their children taken from them have committed suicide. 

Imagine how you would feel if you had to walk from El Salvador to Texas to save the life of your son or daughter, only to wind up in detention.  Now imagine that a man in a uniform comes up to you and says, “Hey, we are going to take your child for a bath” and then hours go by and you realize, they are gone?

Can you imagine?  Can you sit quietly and do nothing when that how your tax dollars are being spent?

We are scarring these children for the rest of their lives.  We know this.  Taking children from their families and institutionalizing them at a young age will have consequences for that child and for this country and our tax-payers for the rest of their lives.

And we don’t know for sure, because none of the agencies have responded, but we hear that parents are going to court in mass trials and having their asylum claims denied – not heard, but denied…and then the parents are deported.

Does the government then find the child in Chicago, or Detroit and send them back to their parents?  Who knows?  But probably not.

There is a certain devious and genuinely cruel kind of evil that’s responsible for a policy that takes children from their parents.

And they don’t expect anyone on the Republican side of the aisle to say anything because it is part of the plan to help you keep your job.

And they don’t expect my party or the American people to do anything, because these are just throwaway kids, as far as the White House is concerned.  They come from “s-hole” countries and will grow up to be animals or whatever after growing up in foster care or whatever.

Well, today, I am joining with a group of hundreds of advocates from a diverse array of organizations, issues and areas of the country and we are going to demand answers. 

And it isn’t just Luis Gutierrez.  I will be joined by Rep. Joe Crowley and others at a rally today in Freedom Plaza at 1:30 here in Washington by other Members of Congress, including some of those who signed the letter that got the ball rolling.

We cannot sit back and let our government systematically ruin the lives of families and scar children for life. 

When we said “Never Again” we meant it.  Never again and that means here too.

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I ask unanimous consent that the letter to the cabinet secretaries signed by 11 Democrats demanding answers be placed in the record.