JUDICIARY DEMOCRATS DEMAND HEARINGS ON TRUMP’S ‘ZERO TOLERANCE’ IMMIGRATION POLICY AS REPUBLICANS ATTEMPT TO SILENCE THEIR VOICES
Washington, D.C. –Today, during a House Judiciary Committee markup, House Judiciary Committee Democrats called for hearings on the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has led to a surge of family separations at the border and recent policy changes to strip asylum protections from domestic violence survivors.
During the markup, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following remarks:
“I want to take a moment now to object to what I believe to be the majority abuse of power which we have just seen in this committee to silence debate on an issue that is squarely within our jurisdiction and is of pressing importance. The shutting down of debate to silence members by use of the previous question is inconsistent with this committee’s history as a place of full and collegial debate, of some of our nation's most important issues.
“I want to associate myself with the remarks of Ms. Jayapal and want to further say that we are overcome with examples of the conduct of an Administration that appears to lack a moral campus and stands in defiance to our nation’s history as a beacon of freedom and a refuge for the oppressed and that shames our country by the actions it is taking. From the ripping of thousands of children from the arms of their parents, as a deliberate means, and the Administration has said so, we are going to rip children away from their parents in order to deter people who are fleeing violence from seeking political asylum, forget the motive, we are going to rip thousands of children form the arms of their parents, that’s inhumane, its inhumane, and it is degrading to our country. We can debate immigration policy, but it’s hard to debate deliberate infliction of cruelty and torture, on victims of violence, of people who are seeking asylum.
“I always thought that when someone comes with a claim of asylum, you first say, okay is there a credible fear here, you have a credible fear hearing, you have an adjudication as to whether the asylum claim is justified. You don’t first arrest the person and take the kids away, hoping to deter other people from fleeing to this country, that’s inhumane. It is beyond, almost beyond description, I want to say disgusting but I hate to use the word disgusting about the action of United States officials, but it’s the only way we can characterize it. And for the Attorney General suddenly to decide that victims fleeing violence, domestic violence, or other violence cannot get political asylum as a class, that violence, the infliction of murder and mayhem should not be subject to consideration for asylum is also beyond the traditions of this country.
“This is the committee with jurisdiction, and we ought to be holding hearings to see what are we doing, what is the administration is doing, do we approve of what they’re doing? Should we say okay go ahead, should we say no stop. That’s the job of this committee, and instead we are sitting debating worthy bills and some not so worthy bills, but nothing of such crucial and human immediacy and that is shameful that we not debate this, it is shameful that we not act on this, and that we not consider this. We are faced with an administration doing these terrible things in our name. And it is shameful that we use the previous question to shut down debate in this committee.
“To shut down so that people can't raise it, as if perhaps the people who moved the previous question are afraid of the debate, are afraid of what may come out, are afraid that they have no responses or that they have no responses that will stand the light of day, so I certainly hope that we will have a hearing very shortly, that we will call the DHS secretary to testify, and then we can look into this question, that is our job, whether we end up approving, I will never approve this policy but that’s not the point, whether we as a committee end up approving this policy, or modifying it, or suggesting changing it, or approving it, it's our job to look into it, it's our job to hold any administration accountable, and I certainly hope we will have such a hearing very quickly.”
Earlier in the markup, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) led the call for hearings on these issues, but was silenced when Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) called the previous question, a procedural move to shut off debate on the topic. Watch Rep. Jayapal’s remarks here.
On June 1, Ranking Member Nadler and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA), led a letter signed by Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen and Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to demand that a briefing be provided on the Trump Administration’s implementation of a “zero tolerance” policy towards border crossers apprehended between ports of entry, the criminalization of asylum seekers, and the increase in family separation.