WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement today after the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a disturbing report confirming that the Trump administration knew their zero tolerance policy would lead to family separations:
“In 2018, the Trump administration’s heinous zero tolerance policy that ripped children out of their parents’ arms rightfully sparked national outrage from the American people. Now, two and a half years after the federal investigation into the Department of Justices’ implementation of the policy began, we finally have more answers about how this diabolical plan came to be.
“It is crystal clear that Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, Chad Wolf, Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior Trump administration officials were not only fully aware that their policy would have traumatizing impacts on families, but also that their intention was to inflict that trauma as a means to deter people from coming to America in search of a better life. Further, it’s now confirmed that they committed perjury by lying to Congress about their intentions and actions in order to avoid accountability for their monstrous initiative.
“The intentional infliction of harm on innocent children is unforgivable and has no place on our soil. The architects should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law for any crimes connected with both the atrocities and the cover-up.
“America is at its strongest when we embrace our historic role as a beacon of hope for persecuted people from around the world. I am determined to work with the Biden administration to ensure that we turn that vision into a reality, and to hold the perpetrators of the Trump administration’s cruelty fully accountable.”
In June 2018, Merkley exposed the Trump administration’s child separation policy when the police were called to prevent him from investigating a huge former Walmart turned child detention center in Brownsville, Texas. He has since returned to the border six times; visited Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America; led the charge in Congress to reunite families and hold the Trump administration accountable for its failure to do so; and released a detailed report outlining how President Trump used federal agencies to turn away thousands of people who have a legal right to ask for refuge within the U.S. from gang violence, murder, rape, and extortion in their home countries.