CONGRESSWOMAN SUSAN DAVIS JOINS DEMOCRATIC WOMEN IN PRESSING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO EXPLAIN “WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?”

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East County News Service

June 28, 2018 (San Diego) – Earlier this month, members of Congress visited detention facilities holding boys separated from their immigrant parents at the border. But thus far, no members have been allowed to go inside facilities holding girls who were taken from their mothers or fathers, and no photos have been released showing girls inside the detention centers including one in Lemon Grove.  Now San Diego Congresswoman Susan Davis has signed a letter along with over 50 Democratic women members of Congress pressing the  Secretaries of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to release details about immigrant children separated from their parents. 

“The Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border is deeply concerning and it goes against our nation’s values and long history as a land of immigrants,” the lawmakers wrote. “As we learn more about the devastating effects of President Trump’s zero tolerance policy, we are seeing more and more images of some of the children that are being detained.  Based on these images, many have raised concerns about the status of young girls who have been separated at the border.  The American people have a right to know what is being done to ensure that these young girls are safe and being properly cared for.”

In photos of the detention centers released by DHS, only photos of young boys have been released. Prompting questions from the public and members of Congress as to the whereabouts of the young girls separated from their parents.

The lawmakers continued, “Disturbingly, the photos and videos released as of the date of this letter only show boys, and only boys age 10 and up. We are asking for a formal answer to these and other questions regarding the status of children being detained by DHS and HHS.”

Congresswoman Davis, after visiting a detention facility for boys in El Cajon, stated, “The United States should have a zero tolerance policy for the immoral treatment of children,. Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, added, “We are a nation of values and we ask our men and women in uniform to defend those values every day. This policy is in no way consistent with those values. As a social worker who practiced in medical and psychiatric settings, particularly focusing on children and families, I can say the profound trauma these children are experiencing will cause immediate and long-lasting damage to them.”

In the letter, the Democratic women asked DHS and HHS to give specifics as to how many children have been separated, how many facilities are housing them, how their safety and care are being ensured, and what the plans are for family reunification.

The full letter can be read below:

Dear Secretary Azar and Secretary Nielsen:

The Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border is deeply concerning and it goes against our nation’s values and long history as a land of immigrants.  As we learn more about the devastating effects of President Trump’s zero tolerance policy, we are seeing more and more images of some of the children that are being detained.  Based on these images, many have raised concerns about the status of young girls who have been separated at the border.  The American people have a right to know what is being done to ensure that these young girls are safe and being properly cared for.

On June 18, 2018, Secretary Nielsen was unable to speak to the whereabouts and living conditions for the many girls, toddlers, and infants who have been separated from their families at the border.  According to data released by the Department of Homeland Security, almost 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and placed under supervision of HHS in accordance with the Trump Administration’s current immigration policy.

Disturbingly, the photos and videos released as of the date of this letter only show boys, and only boys age 10 and up. We are asking for a formal answer to these and other questions regarding the status of children being detained by DHS and HHS.

  •  How many total girls are under the supervision of DHS and HHS? How many facilities are there?  What is the budget for each facility?
  • How has HHS ensured that the facilities housing girls are safe, clean, and age appropriate? When will HHS allow access or provide visual evidence of the status of these girls and the facility conditions?
  • What precautions are being taken to keep young girls protected from exploitation?
  • Who is taking care of infant and toddlers who have been separated from their mothers and can no longer be breastfed?
  • How are DHS and HHS ensuring that the companies and nonprofits that operate facilities through government contracts and grants are conducting thorough background checks on potential illegal behavior among their employees who work with young girls and boys?
  • How are DHS and HHS ensuring that the specific needs of young girls are being met?
  • How many pregnant young women are in ORR’s custody?  What is ORR doing to ensure they are receiving adequate prenatal and medical care?
  • How many young women in ORR’s custody have recently given birth?  What is ORR doing to ensure they are receiving adequate medical care?
  • What plans does DHS and HHS have to reunify children who have been separated from their parents at the border?

The Administration has claimed that limiting media access to the detention centers is out of privacy protection for the detained children. We recognize the importance of protecting the privacy of these children.  However, this crisis has raised great concern among Members of Congress and the American people.  We look forward to your timely response to our questions.

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