July 11, 2018

Castro Remarks on the Administration’s Failure to Meet Court-Ordered Deadline for Reunification

- As Delivered – Click Here for Video

WASHINGTON— Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, made the following remarks at a press conference with the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), Define American, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) , Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) shedding light on the Administration’s brutal zero-tolerance policy that led to the separation of migrant children from their families and failure to meet the July 10th deadline set by Judge Dana Sabraw that would swiftly reunite these children with their families.

“Thank you Jennifer, and thank you RAICES and Define American for bringing us here today, and particularly to RAICES—an organization that has been doing incredible work even before this tragedy started and I’m especially proud that they are from my hometown or based in my hometown at least of San Antonio.

“My name is Joaquin Castro I’m proud to represent the city of San Antonio in the United States Congress. And as y’all know on June 26th, Judge Dana Sabraw of the United States District Court for Southern District of California issued a preliminary injunction that barred the separation of migrant children from their parents.

“This injunction also required the Administration to reunite families within thirty days by July 26th. The injunction also specifically required the Administration to reunite children under five years of age within 14 days. That 14 day deadline is today and the Administration has blown right past it.

“We’ve been told that the Administration could only reunite 54 of the 102 children who were expected to be reunited today. As of yesterday only two of these 102 children have actually been reunited.

“This is a human rights abuse and cause for concern not only here in Congress, but among the American people. If the government cannot reunite just these 102 children, it’s inconceivable that they will reunite the nearly 2,900 by the end of the month, as ordered by the court.

“Given this, Judge Sabraw should appoint a Special Master to ensure the government is in compliance with this process. That Special Master should be in charge of the reunification process.

“As members of Congress, we’ve asked the Administration for numerous status reports and updates, but have yet to hear anything definitive.

“For example, I joined Whip Hoyer, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, and 19 other CHC members demanding answers from Attorney [General] Jeff Sessions, Secretary Nielsen, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on the status and wellbeing of children separated from their parents at the border and detained by federal agencies. We still have absolutely no answer.

“The CHC also sent a letter to Secretary Mattis, requesting answers on the Pentagon’s plans to house these separated kids on military bases. We still have no answer on that either.

“I also joined my colleague Suzanne Bonamici and 78 other Democrats asking for the Administration’s family reunification plan following Judge Sabraw’s ruling. We still have no answer either.

“These are just a few of the examples of Congressional inquiries and oversight we’ve attempted to do that the Administration is refusing to comply with. Basically the Trump Administration has no answers.

“Republicans also need to help us conduct oversight and demand answers from this Administration. Congress needs answers, details and timelines and we will not and cannot rest until we know these children will be safely reunited with their loved ones.

“I’ve also introduced legislation with my colleague Senator Wyden, Senate colleague, called the Restoring Oversight for Members of Congress Act. Members of Congress are the eyes and ears of the American people, this legislation allows immediate access to federal facilities, including those under contract or lease, and gives members of Congress an avenue to report their findings.

“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, no matter their political ideology, to join us in getting this Act passed. We will continue holding the Administration accountable until we know every one of these last children has been reunited with their parents. We’ll also continue to hold the Administration accountable for the zero-tolerance immigration policy that allowed for this in the first place.

“Even if the policy of family separation, which was created by the President, has been ended by Executive Order, we cannot lay our heads to rest without knowing that the zero-tolerance policy has been terminated. Indefinite family detention is not the solution.

“In closing again, I would like to thank the groups that brought us together today, RAICES and I see its Executive Director, Jonathan Ryan, who has done wonderful work in Texas and throughout the nation, and also Define American for being with us here today to hold this press conference.

“Now of course we have some wonderful members of the House and Senate who are here to join us on this issue. The first that I would like to introduce is my colleague from Arizona, Representative Raúl Grijavla.”

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