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April 03, 2019

Democrats Write Secretary Nielsen: You Must Engage with Congress on Thoughtful, Specific Border Security Solutions

Administration refuses to take responsibility for its failed policies that are making the situation at the border worse

(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, led a letter from leading border security and immigration House Democrats to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen after she wrote Congress on the current situation on the border last week. 

Letter text:

It is obvious from your letter to Congress last week that the Trump Administration still does not understand the factors driving people to seek refuge in this country and refuses to take responsibility for its failed policies that are making the situation at the border worse.  

Over the past two years, President Trump has been singularly fixated on funding a border wall, even shutting down the Federal government to get it. He has drastically cut back on refugee resettlement—a program that facilitates the safe and orderly movement of children and families. He has effectively closed off ports of entry to asylum seekers, which has forced people to more treacherous areas between the ports and put additional stress on our border and immigration system.  In short, the Administration’s border and immigration policies have been an abysmal failure.

Rather than learning from its mistakes, the Trump Administration is doubling down by threatening to shut down the border while asking Congress to implement heartless measures ostensibly to deter children and families who are lawfully presenting themselves to border personnel and requesting asylum protection. However, no tough-sounding measure will deter parents who fear their children will be murdered or raped at home. We simply cannot jail our way out of a humanitarian problem.

Instead of pushing ill-advised, ineffective proposals to detain and deport all families and unaccompanied minors, the Administration needs to engage Congress on policies designed to promote safe and orderly migration flows including by:

1. Allocating personnel and resources appropriately to ensure timely processing of people at ports of entry and better manage the changing demographic flows at our southern border.

2. Engaging in real efforts to address the crime, insecurity, and lawlessness that is causing people to leave Central America in the first place.  The Administration cutting foreign assistance just when these countries need it most only makes the situation worse.

3. Working with partners in the region to expand protection capacity and humanitarian assistance so that people will have other places to find safety and security.  We should cooperate to develop a regional approach to migration in the hemisphere, rather than threatening the countries that could be helping us.

4. Establishing legal channels, including refugee processing in nearby countries and in-country processing in sending countries, so that making the perilous journey to our border is not the only option for people in need of protection. 

Unfortunately, President Trump has acted in bad faith on this issue since day one and continues to do so today.  When his Administration and your Department are ready to engage Congress in good faith on thoughtful, specific solutions to this challenge, we stand ready to engage with you.  

Link to Letter

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Nadler) Shadawn Reddick-Smith at 202-225-3951 / Daniel Schwarz at 202-225-5635
(Roybal-Allard) Ben Soskin at 202-225-1766  
(Rice) Michael Aciman at 202-225-5516
(Lofgren) Peter Whippy at 202-225-3072