Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Statement for Hearing on "Oversight of Family Separation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Short-Term Custody Under the Trump Administration"

Washington, July 25, 2019

Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement for the hearing on "Oversight of Family Separation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Short-Term Custody under the Trump Administration:"

"In February, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing to examine the Trump Administration’s indefensible and repugnant family separation policy. Since then, we have seen how this policy—along with many others—have collectively led to a humanitarian crisis at the border, evidenced by devastating images of children and families squeezed into overcrowded and unsanitary facilities.

"Instead of addressing the root causes of migration and competently managing the challenges at our border, the Trump Administration has chosen to dehumanize immigrants and exploit this crisis for political gain. In doing so, it has violated American laws and values, and caused permanent damage to families and children.

"The inhumanity of family separation can be illustrated by a story that surfaced just last week. According to National Public Radio, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent forced a three-year-old child with a serious heart condition to make an impossible choice—to decide which one of her parents she would stay with; her mother, who was allowed into the United States, or her father, who was forced to remain in Mexico.

"But family separation is just one component of this crisis, as it is clear that conditions at border facilities have deteriorated to an unconscionable level. Twice in the last few months, the DHS Office of Inspector General (IG) released reports detailing the severe overcrowding and lack of sanitation at border facilities in Texas. These reports and others are appalling:

  • Facilities lacking safe drinking water and age-appropriate food.
  • A lack of showers, and essential personal hygiene products—like soap and toothpaste—with some detainees going days or weeks without a shower or the ability to brush their teeth.
  • Children required to share combs during a lice outbreak.
  • Allegations of sexual assault and retaliation against children at the Yuma Processing Center in Arizona.
  • And tragically, the death of 10 people, including 3 children, in CBP custody over the last 10 months.

"Administration officials would have you believe that these incidents are the exception, not the rule. Yet, we have also learned about racist and misogynist posts in a closed Facebook group of nearly 10,000 current and former CBP officers—posts that joke about migrant deaths and disparage female Members of Congress. The sheer size of this Facebook group—and the fact that the Chief of the Border Patrol, Carla Provost, was allegedly a member at one time—is deeply concerning.

"To be clear, this hearing is not an attack on individual border patrol agents, but is an examination of the Trump Administration’s policies and the culture of disdain and cruelty towards immigrants that stems from the White House and has deeply infected the agency.The inhumane treatment of children and families at the border must be examined in the context of these incidents.

"There must be accountability for the policy choices that got us here. The Trump Administration has repeatedly claimed that border conditions are the result of increased numbers of asylum seekers. But let’s be clear—we have the capability to safely process the influx of migrants and deal with this situation with compassion, rather than cruelty. Instead, the Administration has opted for policy choices that compromise safety and exacerbate the crisis, such as locking up all asylum seekers, regardless of whether they pose any danger.

"Although I hope that one day, hearings like this will no longer be necessary, today, we must continue our efforts to bring these issues to light and to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its shameful border policies."