The congressman representing Nye and Esmeralda counties in the U.S. House of Representatives visited detention facilities this week as outrage continued over the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration enforcement that’s separated children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Visiting these detention facilities today and seeing innocent kids separated from their parents has truly been heartbreaking and emotionally draining,” U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada, said in Twitter message accompanied by photos.
“We were not allowed to snap photos of the children/parents, so I took these from outside the refugee center and detention facilities,” he said on Monday.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, temporarily halting family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Congressman: ‘humanitarian issue’
Kihuen spoke at a news conference at the San Diego border where he had called on Trump “to rescind his inhumane and cruel family separation policy.
“This is not a Republican or Democratic issue,” Kihuen said Monday. “This is a humanitarian issue. We must do everything to #KeepFamiliesTogether!”
He said that Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “should be ashamed for holding children hostage and using them as bargaining chips.”
“America is better than this,” Kihuen said.
In a separate tweet on June 18, Kihuen said he was “on the way to the San Diego border to get a firsthand view of the children’s detention facilities in the region and to demand that” Trump “end his cruel, inhumane and un-American policies that have already torn 2,000 children apart from their parents!”
The following day, Kihuen visited the U.S.-Mexico border close to where he said he and his family had crossed 30 years earlier.
“Can’t imagine that day when we crossed, at 8 years old, being separated from my parents in a country I didn’t know,” Kihuen wrote. “Ripping children and parents apart is cruel, inhumane and goes against American values.”
Earlier in the week, both U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, and U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, called for action.
In a letter, Heller joined 11 other Republican senators in urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop separating families.
Cortez Masto, in the forefront starting more than a week ago, called the “zero-tolerance” policy “heinous and barbaric” and “an affront on the heart and soul of our nation.”
Trump reverses course
As of Tuesday, Trump had shown no signs of backing down.
“Under current law, we have only two policy options to respond to this massive crisis,” he said in remarks reported by ABC News. “We can either release all illegal immigrant families (of) minors who show up at the border from Central America or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry.
“Those are the only two options, totally open borders for criminal prosecution for lawbreaking. And you want to be able to do that if we don’t want people pouring into our country. We want them to come in through the process, through the legal system, and we want ultimately a merit-based system where people come in based on merit.”
Later in his remarks, ABC reported, Trump said that he wants the U.S. to be a “country with heart” but that the only option is to stop people from entering the country in the first place.
“I don’t want judges, I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in. If a person comes in and puts one foot on our ground, is essentially welcome to America, welcome to our country, and you never get them out,” Trump said.
On Wednesday, as outrage surfaced around the USA, Trump signed the executive order.
“So we’re going to have strong — very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” he said.
“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president said.
Trump was asked if he was backing down.
“No, no, the border is just as tough, but we do want to keep families together,” he said.
At a glance
Ruben Kihuen, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was 8, said that for a time, he was living in the U.S. on an expired visa. He is now a naturalized citizen.
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal