June 19, 2018

Feinstein: Trump Wrong to Call Protections for Unaccompanied Children ‘Loopholes’

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement correcting the record on Trump administration mischaracterizations of laws that protect unaccompanied minors:

“The Trump administration has falsely portrayed protections for unaccompanied immigrant children as so-called ‘loopholes.’ These laws provide basic humanitarian protections and due process rights, and it’s simply wrong to call them ‘loopholes.’

“The plight of unaccompanied immigrant children first came to my attention 20 years ago. I saw on the news a 15-year-old Chinese girl trembling before an immigration judge. Despite committing no crimes, she was shackled and sobbing.

“By the time the girl appeared before the immigration judge, she had already been detained for eight months. Even more shocking is the fact that after she was granted political asylum, she was detained for another four months.

“Her story was not unique. Some children were being held in secure prisons, isolated and forced to wear prison uniforms and shackles. Some were even placed in solitary confinement, even though they weren’t accused of any crime.

“There was broad, bipartisan support for changing the law to protect these children. My coauthor of that legislation was Senator Sam Brownback, one of the Senate’s most conservative members.

“These protections were passed unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by a Republican president.

“Unaccompanied minors are not guaranteed the right to stay in the United States indefinitely and no one automatically gets any immigration status. Rather, these children are afforded basic humanitarian guarantees, like access to water and food, and an opportunity to make their case before an immigration judge.

“The drive to repeal these basic humanitarian protections is misguided and wrong. President Trump should not be taking children away from their parents in order to force Democrats into rolling back protections for other children.”