HEINRICH, UDALL: Congress Needs Additional Oversight Of Treatment Of Migrant Children In Custody

N.M. Senators call for leadership of Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, and Border Patrol to testify before Congress immediately on treatment of migrant children in immigration custody

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 10, 2019) – After recent horrific reports of sexual assault and the inhumane treatment of migrant children in U.S. detention facilities, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall today sent a letter to Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Member Gary Peters of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to request a hearing on standards for U.S. Border Patrol detention facilities.

“We believe there is an immediate need to hold a hearing calling Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Border Patrol leadership to provide a full accounting surrounding the treatment of migrant children in immigration custody and their plans to safeguard against such conditions happening in the future,” wrote the Senators. “We must also secure a commitment from DHS and CBP that Congress and its representatives are able to carry out its oversight responsibilities appropriately through on-site visits and interviews with detained migrants. We should do everything in our power to hold DHS and its component agencies accountable for adhering to American values and for executing a clear plan to right this horrific wrong.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Peters:

We write today to respectfully request that you promptly schedule a hearing in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on standards for U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) detention facilities holding unaccompanied alien children (UACs) and the conditions at the Border Patrol facility at Clint, Texas.

Reports of overcrowded and inhumane conditions for detained children at the Clint facility raise serious concerns and questions that Congress must address. While the circumstances that led to the conditions at the Clint facility are still not fully known to the public, the information that has been published, and witnessed in part by our staff, is alarming and demands further investigation. The permanent trauma President Trump's anti-immigrant policies are inflicting on innocent children, many of whom are refugees fleeing violence and seeking asylum, is appalling and does not represent who we are as a nation.

In light of these serious concerns at Border Patrol detention facilities, it is essential that the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee uphold its vital tradition of oversight when it comes to incidents such as the circumstances at the Clint facility. We believe there is an immediate need to hold a hearing calling Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Border Patrol leadership to provide a full accounting surrounding the treatment of migrant children in immigration custody and their plans to safeguard against such conditions happening in the future. We must also secure a commitment from DHS and CBP that Congress and its representatives are able to carry out its oversight responsibilities appropriately through on-site visits and interviews with detained migrants. We should do everything in our power to hold DHS and its component agencies accountable for adhering to American values and for executing a clear plan to right this horrific wrong.

All children deserve dignity, respect, and basic human rights, and it is critical to have this hearing as soon as reasonably possible.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.