Washington, July 26 (IANS) A group of Democratic lawmakers has urged the Donald Trump administration to reunite the thousands of migrant children separated from their parents at the border with their parents.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics tells us what’s happened to these kids… is institutional child abuse, at the hands of our government,” said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the second highest lawmaker within his party in the upper house, at a press conference on Wednesday, Efe news reported.
The Democrats requested the US President to renunite the migrant kids with parents within 24 hours (July 26), when the deadline set by a federal judge expires.
“The bottom line is this: this is a disgraceful chapter in our history, and we’re only coming to the end because of a federal judge (and a court order). There are lives that will be harmed and changed forever because of this zero tolerance policy,” said Durbin.
The practice “doesn’t reflect the values of the American people. The American people are caring people. They do not want children to be victims of this type of political exploitation,” he added.
However, Durbin and his colleagues said they regretted the fact that the Trump administration “will not comply” with the deadline, given that – on Wednesday there are “about 2,000” children who are being held apart from their parents due to the US government’s zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration.
Durbin called the situation a mixture of “toxic cruelty” and “incompetence”.
To date, the US government has reunited with their parents just 58 of the 103 children under age 5 who had been removed from their parents’ custody after they illegally crossed the US border, according to figures provided by Democratic lawmaker Yvette Clarke at the same press conference.
Besides criticizing the slowness of the process of reuniting the kids and their parents, Democrats derided some of the conditions under which the parents and children are being held at detention centres.
“These centres are not federal property, but rather are private. That means that they want to maximise their profits at all costs,” Congressman Luis Gutierrez told Efe news.
Among other things, the lawmakers criticised the fact that the parents are being forced to pay $8 for a telephone call if they want to speak with their children.