Merkley on One-Year Anniversary of Child Separation Announcement: “We Must Not Let Cruelty and Darkness Win”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement, marking the one-year anniversary of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ May 7 announcement of the administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of separating families at the border:

“One year ago today, a United States Attorney General stood before microphones and cameras and proudly announced a policy of ripping children from their parents’ arms. Sessions’ speech that day will go down as a truly dark and disgraceful moment in American history.

“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. And the Trump administration continues to block children at the border, leaving them stranded in extremely dangerous cities in Mexico.

“Let this anniversary be a reminder to grassroots America that we must keep shining a light on what is happening at the border, and pushing back on these horrific plans to inflict trauma. We must not let cruelty and darkness win.”

Last June, 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 detention center 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.