Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal called for the federal Judiciary Committee, where she serves, to hold hearings on the policies that have resulted in the separation of families seeking asylum in the United States.
Jayapal this week visited more than 200 asylum seekers transported from the southern border to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac. She said 174 of them were women and many of them were mothers separated from their children.
In May, the Trump administration announced that adults caught crossing the border without documentation would be criminally prosecuted. Children traveling with their parents can’t go to federal prisons, report Vox, so they are split from their parents and treated as unaccompanied minors.
There is no exception for asylum seekers, according to the news organization.
Last week, more than 200 adults detained by Border Patrol agents were transferred to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.
Jayapal visited the those detained over the weekend and said the parents did not know when they would see their children again.
“The mothers could not stop crying when they spoke about their children – young girls and boys who were taken from them with no chance to say goodbye and no plan for reunification,” she said in a prepared statement.
She issued a statement on Twitter shortly after her visit in SeaTac.
What I heard from the women being held at the federal detention facility today was saddening and disturbing. They cried so much.
Every asylum-seeker should be immediately released, reunited with their children and connected to legal services. Anything less is cruel and barbaric. pic.twitter.com/29dZrCX3Ug
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) June 9, 2018
Jayapal called on the Trump administration to release the parents and reunify the families.
“It is outrageous that Department of Homeland Security is violating human rights and our international legal obligations under human rights law to swiftly and humanely process asylum seekers. I will also continue to push to defund ICE, to completely reform the immigration detention system and end mass prosecutions by the Department of Justice, and defund any Department of Homeland Security programs that break up families,” she said in a prepared statement.