Merkley Slams Bill to Imprison Children in Internment Camps

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the  Senate Judiciary Committee approved on a party-line vote a bill that would allow the government to imprison migrant children in family internment camps for up to 100 days:

“This is a deeply shameful moment for our nation. The internment camps America operated during World War II are one of the darkest chapters of our history. We should be determined to learn from the painful episodes of our past—not to repeat them. Today, twelve United States Senators voted to lock up innocent children in internment camps. This is an unconscionable and immoral position.

“No nation, especially not one built on freedom and equality, should ever traumatize children to make a political point. That is why I’ve introduced the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act—a bill that already has 40 sponsors in the Senate. That is the bill that the Committee should have advanced today. America can and should reject the darkness of this administration and treat all immigrants—especially children—with dignity and respect.”

In June 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 detention center in Brownsville, Texas. Merkley pressured the Trump administration to formally end their 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. Those policies include some continued cases of family separation, as we learned this week, and an ongoing push to lock children up in family internment camps instead of allowing children to live in homes and attend school while they await their asylum hearings.