Heinrich Delivers Opening Remarks At Hearing On Treatment Of Children At The Border
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) delivers opening remarks during a Democratic Policy and Communications Committee hearing titled “America Speaks Out: Stop Trump’s Cruel Treatment of Children at the Border.” July 23, 2019.
Senator Heinrich's remarks:
I’d like to thank all of our witnesses here who are here to testify to the reality of the intentionally chaotic and cruel situation on our southern border.
I think it’s pretty shameful that Republicans in this body are refusing to work with us to address the root causes of this crisis.
We as a Congress should do everything we can to hold this administration accountable for flouting our nation’s laws and American values.
Children as young as infants and toddlers have been taken from their families.
I think that’s worth saying again.
Children as young as infants and toddlers.
Migrant families and children are being held in overcrowded, prison-like facilities.
A report in the New York Times described the conditions at Clint this way:
“Outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chickenpox were spreading among the hundreds of children and adults who were being held in cramped cells…The stench of the children’s dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents’ own clothing — people in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly.”
I don’t know how anyone could treat children like this.
The Trump administration is also throttling the legal ports of entry where refugees are required under law to present themselves for asylum, pushing huge groups to remote and more dangerous stretches of the border.
We have tragically seen this result in the deaths of several children in New Mexico near some of our remote ports of entry that lack even the most basic medical infrastructure.
And I am sincerely appreciative that so many New Mexicans, rather than responding to the President’s rhetoric and chaos on the border with fear, are instead responding to this humanitarian crisis with both kindness and compassion.
I’m proud to welcome one of those New Mexicans to testify before us today.
Imelda Maynard, a senior attorney for Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico, has been providing legal services to migrant families and children in southern New Mexico, West Texas, and in our neighboring city in Mexico, Ciudad Juarez.
And I’d like to take a moment to thank you and all of the Americans who are volunteering their time and their resources to help migrant families—mothers, fathers, and children who are desperately seeking refuge and the prospect of a safer life in this country.
And I would implore my colleagues who are here today—and especially ourRepublican colleagues—to listen to the grave details these witnesses are telling us about conditions in these facilities.
I think it’s clear that the Trump administration has shown an appalling disregard of basic human dignity.
This is not who we are as a country, and this is not how we should treat our fellow human beings.