Our nation’s immigration and border security system is broken and must be fixed. We must ensure that our border is secure, while at the same time honoring America’s commitment to provide refuge to those seeking asylum as they flee and persecution in their home countries.
I fundamentally disagree with President Trump on his immigration policies. The President has constantly demonized immigrants, has proposed Muslim and refugee bans, tried to restrict the flow of legal immigration, separating children from their parents, and tried to make the American people pay for an ineffective and wasteful border wall with Mexico. America’s strength is in our values and our diversity, which makes us stronger as a nation, not weaker.
In the summer of 2019 I joined a Senate delegation to visit our southern border and view firsthand the migration and humanitarian crisis we are facing. I was disturbed to see the overcrowded facilities and poor conditions that migrants were living in for days, weeks, and even months. I have co-sponsored legislation that would prevent children from being separated from their parents, and provide minimum standards of treatment for children and families. To address the roots causes of the crisis, I have joined with my colleagues in introducing the Central America Reform and Enforcement Act, which focuses on reducing the violence and ending the humanitarian crises that are driving emigration from Central America. The legislation also smooths the path of those seeking asylum in this country.
In the United States, the federal government cannot be in the business of tearing apart families, including separating American-citizen children from their immigrant parents. President Trump needs to refocus his attention, and our limited immigration enforcement resources, on removing violent criminals from our communities. In addition to the fear he is causing across communities in Maryland and around the country, future raids could tear apart families on American soil, harming children, families and whole neighborhoods. DHS may wind up aggravating its existing problem at the border by trying to house even more family members and children in temporary, overcrowded, and sub-standard facilities.
Ultimately, the President and Congress must work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform, so that we can bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows using a fair process. The Senate passed such a measure in 2013 by a 68-32 vote margin, which could be our starting point. Such a measure must include provisions to protect Dreamers and those with Temporary Protected Status. Ultimately, Congress should provide eligible individuals with a pathway to citizenship for long-standing residents who now call America their home.