Portman Reiterates Opposition to Trump Administration’s Border Family Separation Policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) released the following statement on the Trump administration’s border family separation policy:
“As I have said for the last several weeks, I oppose the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents. This is counter to our values. We can have strong border security without separating families at the border. They can be kept together and dealt with as a family unit.
“The administration’s policy will increase the number of unaccompanied minors. Based on the extensive oversight I’ve conducted as Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), we know that HHS and DHS are not prepared to effectively deal with even more unaccompanied minors. This policy is taking children from the love and care that parents provide and putting them at risk of trafficking, abuse, and getting lost in the immigration system. I have taken the lead in exposing the inadequate practices at these agencies, practices that led to HHS turning several unaccompanied minors over to human traffickers under the previous administration. And I’ve taken the lead in pushing these agencies to put reforms in place that ensure unaccompanied minor children who come without parents are not trafficked or abused and make their court dates.
“The administration should change course immediately and use its executive authority to keep families together and expedite their cases. If those changes aren’t made, Congress should act quickly on a legislative solution to fix this problem. I’m working with my colleagues to develop a compassionate solution that upholds our immigration laws and keeps families together while their cases are being processed.”
NOTE: As Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), Portman has led oversight efforts in Congress to ensure that unaccompanied minors are protected from trafficking and abuse. In April, PSI held a hearing to examine efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect unaccompanied minors from human trafficking and other forms of abuse. At this hearing, HHS testified that they had lost track of more than 1,500 unaccompanied minors in a three month period. This hearing followed up on PSI’s hearing on January 28, 2016 at which the Subcommittee released a report detailing how HHS placed eight children with human traffickers who placed the children in forced labor on an egg farm in Marion, Ohio. The Subcommittee found that HHS had failed to establish procedures to protect UACs, such as conducting sufficient background checks on sponsors and following up with sponsors and unaccompanied minors to ensure the children’s welfare.