A team of congressmen from Oregon visited a federal illegal immigrant prison facility to see the conditions under which immigrant parents are being housed.
The four Democrats visited Sheridan Federal Correctional Institution in Oregon expressed dismay at what the Trump administration is doing to distraught immigrants.
Worse of all is how the government is separating immigrant parents from their children and housing them in different facilities. Sometimes, separated immigrant parents never set eyes on their children again for many years.
Immigrant Detainees’ Rights Are Rights in Name Only
The four congressmen that visited FCI Sheridan are:
- Jeff Merkley
- Ron Wyden
- Suzanne Bonamici
- Earl Blumenauer
Close to 1,700 parents separated from their children are kept in federal prisons since there are not enough spaces in state detention facilities. The four politicians had received information that 123 immigrants are housed at the facility.
So they visited to see things for themselves as well as to talk with some of them.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, leader of the team, was able to learn through interpreters that the immigrant prisoners were from places such as:
Immigrant Detainees: No Legal Rights Allowed
The distinguished visitors learned from the immigrants that they were not given access to lawyers. Many revealed they are only asylum seekers fleeing persecution and violence from their home countries.
They said they need legal representation. A few of them earlier had contact details of lawyers kept in their clothes, but since they were stripped and given some other clothing, they could not access lawyers’ information.
Carissa Cutrell, spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they are working to ensure the detainees are able to speak with lawyers. Merkley said:
“They’re basically in limbo not knowing what’s going on.
I’m walking away with a sense that on a number of the key issues, detainees’ rights are rights in name only.”
Separating Immigrant Fathers From Children Illustrates Cruelty of Trump’s Administration
Many of the detainees told Wyden and Bonamici that they lack the money and contact information required to make phone calls from prison. Lawmakers found to their dismay that the detainees were lumped together into prison and left incommunicado with the outside world.
They also felt strong pity when the detainees lamented they had been separated from their children and have no way of knowing if they would ever be reunited again. Rep. Blumenauer said separating immigrant parents from their children is:
“abhorent…nobody should treat children like that.”
Sen. Merkel said the afflication the children are experiencing at the hands of the government is an “irreparable harm.”
In a related development, two congressmen equally visited the Anne Arundel County jail in Maryland where immigrant parents are held separated from their children.
Democrats Don Beyer of Virginia and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland spoke to two fathers who narrated why they fled Honduras with their kids and came to the US. They said they turned themselves in to ICE officials at El Paso and have been separated from their kids since then.
“The fathers’s stories illustrate the cruelty of the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border.”