Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today joined the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) in a meeting with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. In the meeting, Cortez Masto outlined a list of steps that must be taken, immediately, to reunite separated children with their parents. Specifically, she insisted that 400 deported parents be returned to the United States and reunified with their kids as soon as possible. She also noted that over 900 parents have already been classified as “ineligible” for reunification, and demanded to know how DHS determines which parents are eligible. Secretary Nielsen refused to directly address the issues brought up by Senator Cortez Masto and her colleagues, and used alternative facts to justify the Trump Administration’s lack of transparency.
“We have a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to do no harm to children, and I refuse to stand by while families are being held in inhumane, inhospitable conditions along our southern border. DHS needs a reunification plan for parents who have already been deported, and needs to ensure that only parents who pose a serious, credible threat to their kids are being deemed ‘ineligible’ for reunification. I raised these concerns with Secretary Nielsen today, and will continue to do so until every single family has been reunited. Secretary Nielsen needs to start telling Congress and the American people the truth.”
On June 25th, 2018, Cortez Masto toured several facilities where asylum seekers and their children are currently being processed and detained in Texas. During the visit, Senator Cortez Masto met with mothers and fathers who have been deeply scarred by the ongoing effects of President Trump’s inhumane family separation policy.
Upon returning from the trip, she spoke on the Senate floor to call for an end to family separation and a plan to reunite families immediately. She also partnered with Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to introduce the REUNITE Act, a bill that would immediately reunify all families and establish a permanent system of coordination between agencies and non-governmental organizations to protect detained immigrants with children.