Trump's immigration policy draws Father's Day protests in Elizabeth from N.J. reps
A half-dozen U.S. representatives from New Jersey and New York spent Father's Day at the federal detention center in Elizabeth in support of parents whose kids have been taken from them under President Donald Trump's immigration policy.
"In every case, they were fleeing to the United States because they or their children or younger siblings were victims of violence," said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist., who visited the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility with Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist.; Albio Sires, D-8th Dist., and Democratic lawmakers from New York.
Pallone said in an interview after his visit that the parents have not been told where their children have been taken, and in one case the authorities removed a father's 5-year-old daughter in the middle of the night.
He said that the immigrants were not coming for economic reasons, and rather than sneak over the border to find work, were turning themselves in to the federal authorities and requesting asylum, which is the normal practice for political refugees.
"They're not coming here to take anybody's jobs," Pallone said. "They were fleeing persecution, which this country has always been a haven from. They're going to be tortured or murdered when they go back. They bring their kids because they don't want their kids to die."
The lawmakers were kept waiting for two hours Sunday after showing up with signed permissions from the detainees and their lawyers before being allowed to visit.
"What is happening to them is despicable. It is a sin," Pascrell said. "On this Father's Day, I get to go home to see my children and my grandchildren. These poor souls don't get that luxury. My heart aches for every one of them."
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said immigrants coming to the U.S. need to know that the Department of Homeland Security will enforce the laws.
"Nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mothers' arms, from their mothers' wombs frankly," Conway said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "But we have to make sure that DHS's laws are understood through the sound bite culture that we live in."
"I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order," Sessions said Thursday in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
"American citizens that are jailed do not take their children to jail with them. And non-citizens who cross our borders unlawfully -- between our ports of entry -- with children are not an exception," he said.
Trump falsely has blamed congressional Democrats for his administration's decision to separate children from their parents who cross the border into the U.S. and request asylum.
Pascrell said Trump and Sessions were lying.
"There are no laws requiring families to be ripped apart," Pascrell said. "Trump claims Democrats are to blame for families being broken up. That is a lie. Republicans control every branch of government. For over a decade, Republicans have rejected every single immigration compromise put before them. They are making these disgraces happen every day."
While demanding that Democrats work with Republicans, Trump rejected bipartisan efforts to strengthen border security and allow unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the country they grew up with, saying he did not want people from "shithole countries."
Meanwhile, House Republican leaders, who previously refused to consider the 2013 immigration bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate, are preparing this week to bring up legislation crafted without Democratic input after rejecting another bipartisan effort to draft a measure that had support from both parties.