WASHINGTON, D.C. – One year ago today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley ignited national outrage about the Trump administration’s child separation policy after being turned away from a child detention center in Brownsville, Texas. Merkley released the following statement today marking the one year anniversary and the events since:
“One year ago, Americans reacted in horror and outrage when they saw what was being done in their names at the border. Children were being ripped out of their parents’ arms and dragged away to secretive detention centers. Our government was deliberately traumatizing children to deter families fleeing for their lives from seeking safety on our shores. There is no religious or moral tradition in the world that condones hurting children to send a message to their parents.
“In the year since, we’ve shined a light on what has been happening at the border, and have forced President Trump and his administration to back down from some of their cruelest ideas. But abhorrent treatment of children and families at the border continues. Trump continues to try to criminalize asylum-seekers and punish them in any way he can. The administration may still try to pursue a ‘Choose Your Trauma’ strategy of forcing parents to choose between subjecting their children to being imprisoned alongside them or having them ripped away. The Trump administration continues to block or hassle children at the border, frequently leaving them stranded in extremely dangerous cities in Mexico. They continue to lock up thousands of migrant children in prisons. And they continue to seek a massive expansion of internment camps for migrant families.
“Many of our own ancestors arrived in America fleeing violence, famine, or war abroad. We can and must treat refugees today with the same dignity and respect we would have wanted our own ancestors to experience upon arriving at our shores. Let this anniversary be a reminder to grassroots America to keep shining a light on what is happening at the border, and pushing back on these horrific plans that inflict trauma and go against everything we stand for as Americans. Under the cruel policies of President Trump, Lady Liberty is weeping—but with the concerted efforts of We the People, we can make her torch shine bright once again.”
On June 3, 2018, Merkley set off a national firestorm when he went to the border to personally investigate the Administration’s child separation policy and was turned away from a children’s prison in Brownsville, Texas. Merkley pressured the Trump administration to back down from this cruel policy of separating children from their parents, but the Administration has been determined to keep pursuing policies that inflict trauma on children and families fleeing persecution abroad.
These strategies and their impacts are explored in depth in a short documentary film that shows Merkley’s investigation of Trump Administration’s border policies that have deliberately traumatized migrant children and their families, and his efforts to shine a spotlight on abuses and force change. The film explores the Trump administration’s efforts to separate children from families, expand family internment and hold migrant children for months on end in unregulated child prison camps. The full documentary can be found on YouTube here and Facebook here.