During her address to the Senate Chamber, Senator Rosen Unveiled Reforms Needed to Help End of Inhumane Treatment of Migrant Children at Southern Border

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), took to the Senate floor and outlined what reforms the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must make in order to improve conditions for migrants held at the Southern Border. The critical reforms, which were outlined in a letter sent to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, are necessary to ensure that DHS meets minimum humanitarian standards at processing facilities. In her letter, Rosen makes clear that these recommendations must be met in order for her to lift two holds that she placed on DHS nominees Chad Wolf and Troy Edgar. Rosen announced these holds last month, and will continue the holds until the inhumane and substandard conditions at migrant detention centers significantly improve, and oversight requirements are met.

“This is the United States of America, and the way we are treating migrant families and children at the border goes against our core values, the very values that make this country great. Congress must act now. We must ensure that we achieve, at the very least, minimum humanitarian standards at CBP facilities. That means that all CBP facilities where children are processed or detained, need to have on-site medical professionals with pediatric training and child welfare professionals. And that also means implementing a process for announced and unannounced site visits by NGOs, so that we can ensure proper oversight and accountability, as well as direct services for children,” said Senator Rosen. 

Watch video of Senator Rosen’s speech here.

Senator Rosen’s remarks as prepared for delivery can be viewed here.

BACKGROUND: Last week, Senator Rosen sent a letter to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI) requesting that upcoming HSGAC hearings on the border focus on specific issues and solutions for the inhumane treatment of minors at our southern border and that such hearings take place before the Senate adjourns for the August state work period.

In June, Senator Rosen joined her colleagues in sending a letter to Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) requesting a hearing on the health and safety conditions of migrant children arriving at the southern border. Rosen also led 17 of her colleagues in sending a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan raising concerns about a recent Office of Inspector General report detailing severe and dangerous overcrowding of migrants at El Paso Del Norte Processing Center during unannounced inspections conducted on May 8 and 9, 2019.

In May, Senator Rosen questioned Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan on misleading statements DHS officials made to her and Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) during their 2018 visit to the US-Mexico Border. Senator Rosen and Congressman Carbajal traveled together to Texas to visit a facility housing unaccompanied immigrant minors in Tornillo and U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Paso del Norte Processing Center in El Paso. DHS and HHS personnel assured them that their agencies had the information and resources needed to reunite separated migrant families.

Rosen is a co-sponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which would ensure that the federal government carries out immigration procedures in the best interest of detained children.

Read the full text of the letter here and below:

The Honorable Kevin K. McAleenan
Acting Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20016

Dear Acting Secretary McAleenan:

Last month, I placed holds on two Department of Homeland Security (DHS) nominees, Chad F. Wolf and Troy D. Edgar, until a non-governmental third party certifies that detention conditions for children in DHS custody have improved significantly. Shortly after I placed the holds, your office assured my staff that the supplemental funding bill Congress passed would alleviate the overcrowding at DHS detention facilities and thus improve the inhumane conditions in which children were held.

Nearly a month later, conditions for migrant children do not appear to be sufficiently improving.  An official from DHS’s Office of Inspector General testified before Congress last week that inspectors traveled to the Rio Grande Valley and found “serious overcrowding” at four of the five Border Patrol facilities inspected and “prolonged detention” at all five. There is no evidence that any amount of time in prison-like detention conditions is safe for children. Every day that goes by without progress, sick and scared children remain in those conditions at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, which risks severe, long-term physical and psychological harm.

To ensure that children in U.S. custody are properly protected and cared for, DHS needs to make the following reforms recommended by child health and welfare experts: 

1.    Access to Pediatric Care: All children arriving at DHS facilities must receive prompt and comprehensive medical screening and treatment by pediatricians, with follow-up examinations on a regular basis and as necessary.  Every single DHS facility where children are or could be processed or detained must be staffed with at least one certified medical professional with pediatric training, with immediate consultation available from a pediatrician if one is not physically present.

2.    Child Welfare Professionals at DHS Facilities: In addition to medical personnel, DHS must hire licensed child welfare professionals to be present at CBP facilities during any time a child is held on site.  Licensed social workers, child psychologists, or other professionals with training in interviewing children and trauma-informed best practices must conduct all credible fear screenings of children and ensure that CBP facilities meet minimum safety standards for children.  Child welfare professionals should have regular access to and interaction with children on site.  

3.    Access to DHS Facilities for NGOs: Border Patrol agents and other CBP personnel are not trained in providing child welfare services.  Revelations of a secret Facebook group, recordings of Border Patrol agents, and other reports call into question the agency’s capacity to prioritize child safety and welfare. DHS must negotiate or contract with one or more non-governmental organizations to provide safe access so that NGOs can ensure children are receiving medical treatment, food, and other appropriate care and are not being neglected or abused. Non-profit humanitarian organizations should be able to receive scheduled access to provide direct services for children on a regular basis, along with unscheduled visits for at least one pre-approved humanitarian organization with expertise in child welfare.  

I will not lift the holds on DHS nominees Chad Wolf and Troy Edgar unless these reforms are made and a third-party NGO certifies that conditions have improved.  I am committed to using any tool available to me to ensure the safety and care of migrant children at the southern border. I stand willing to work with you and my colleagues in Congress in a bipartisan manner to develop long-term immigration policy solutions, in addition to addressing the immediate concern of the safety and welfare of these vulnerable children. Every hour that goes by for children in these conditions creates further trauma that is completely preventable and absolutely unacceptable.  

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss further, please have your office contact Bryn McDonough on my staff at (202) 224-6244.

Sincerely,

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Para Publicación Inmediata
Martes 23 de julio de 2019

Contacto: Press@Rosen.senate.gov 

Rosen habla en el pleno del Senado exigiendo acción inmediata para ponerle fin al trato inhumano de los niños migrantes en la frontera sur

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hoy, la Senadora Jacky Rosen (D-NV), miembro del Comité de Seguridad Nacional y Asuntos Gubernamentales del Senado (HSGAC, por sus siglas en inglés), dio un discurso en el pleno del Senado y presento los requerimientos que debe realizar el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en ingles) para mejorar las condiciones de los migrantes en la frontera sur. La Senadora describió los requisitos que solicita en una carta enviada al Secretario interino del DHS, Kevin McAleenan, que son necesarios para garantizar que el DHS cumpla con normas humanitarias en las instalaciones de procesamiento. En su carta, Rosen deja en claro que estos requisitos deben de cumplirse para que ella levante dos bloques que ella colocó en contra de los nominados de DHS Chad Wolf y Troy Edgar. Rosen anunció su bloqueo de las nominaciones el mes pasado y continuará su bloque hasta que las condiciones inhumanas y deficientes en los centros de detención de migrantes mejoren significativamente y se cumplan los requisitos de supervisión.

“Estos son los Estados Unidos, y la forma en la que estamos tratamos a las familias y niños migrantes en la frontera va en contra de nuestros valores fundamentales, los mismos valores que hacen a este país un gran país. El Congreso debe actuar de inmediato. Debemos asegurar normas humanitarias en las instalaciones de CBP. Eso significa que todas las instalaciones de CBP donde se procesan o detienen a niños, necesita tener pediatrías y profesionales médicos de bienestar infantil. Y eso también significa implementar un proceso para visitas anunciadas y no anunciadas por parte de organización no gubernamental, para que podamos garantizar una supervisión adecuada y también servicios directos para los niños", dijo la Senadora Rosen.

Vea el video del discurso de la Senadora Rosen aquí.

El discurso completo de la Senadora Rosen se pueden leer aquí.

ANTECEDENTES: La semana pasada, la Senadora Rosen le envió una carta al presidente del Comité de Seguridad Nacional, Ron Johnson (R-WI), y al miembro de mayor rango Gary Peters (D-MI) solicitando una audiencia sobre las condiciones de salud y seguridad de los niños migrantes en centros de detención en la frontera.

En junio, la Senadora Rosen se unió a sus colegas en enviar una carta al Presidente y al demócrata de mayor rango del Comité de HELP, Lamar Alexander (R-TN), y a Patty Murray (D-WA), solicitando una audiencia sobre las condiciones de salud y de seguridad de los niños migrantes en la frontera. También en junio, Rosen lideró a 17 de sus colegas a enviar una carta al Secretario Interino del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos (DHS, por sus siglas en inglés), Kevin McAleenan, expresando preocupación por un reporte de la Oficina del Inspector General que detallo el hacinamiento grave y peligroso de los migrantes en el Centro de Procesamiento de El Paso Del Norte durante las inspecciones realizadas el 8 y 9 de mayo de 2019.

En mayo, la Senadora Rosen interrogó al secretario interino Kevin McAleenan por declaraciones engañosas que los funcionarios del DHS le hicieron a ella y al congresista Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) durante su visita de 2018 a la frontera. La Senadora Rosen y el Congresista Carbajal viajaron juntos a Texas para visitar unas instalaciones de menores inmigrantes no acompañados en Tornillo y el Centro de Procesamiento de Paso del Norte de Protección de Fronteras y Aduanas de los EE. UU. El personal de DHS y HHS les aseguraron que sus agencias tenían la información y los recursos necesarios para reunir a familias migrantes separadas.

Rosen es copatrocinadora de La Ley de Mantener a las Familias Juntas, que garantizaría que el gobierno federal lleve a cabo los procedimientos de inmigración en el mejor interés de niños detenidos.

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