Heidi Altman Profile picture
Jul 31, 2018 32 tweets 13 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Happening now: Long line waiting to get into the Senate Judiciary hearing on family separation. Hundreds of families remain separated and accountability is overdue. I will tweet out news from the hearing on this thread. #familiesbelongtogether
.@ChuckGrassley has opened the hearing. The room is overflowing, with many advocate mamas here with their children in their arms, protesting the rights abuses that continue to unfold.
.@SenFeinstein is delivering her opening with a focus on the appalling lack of government transparency regarding the family separation crisis. Months into the crisis she reminds us that we still don't know the total number of children separated from their parents....
.@SenFeinstein continues with a summary of the #s we do know: 711 children still separated from their parents, including 431 whose parents were deported. These numbers suggest, she says, that the United States government "may essentially orphan" hundreds of children.
.@SenatorDurbin opens by calling on DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen - who he calls the "architect of this humanitarian disaster" - to step down. The policy of separating families, he says, "is and was a cruel policy inconsistent with the bedrock values of this nation."
"We do not need internment camps again in American history." @SenatorDurbin
Medical experts who know DHS facilities well have spoken out about the grave harms they cause children. Community-based alternatives to detention are the answer, NOT family separation, NOT family detention #FamiliesBelongTogether #EndFamilyDetention nytimes.com/2018/07/18/us/…
As CBP official Carla Provost begins testifying, dozens of advocates - many with children in arms - stand silently and walk out in protest.
ICE official Matthew Albence is now delivering a shockingly tone deaf complaint about the mass resources required of ICE to complete the court-ordered reunifications. Um, Mr. Albence: Reunification wouldn't be necessary if DHS hadn't torn the families apart to begin with.
Exec. Office for Immigration Review Dir. McHenry is speaking. @NIJC we worry that the political pressure DOJ regularly exerts on immigration judges will mean that many reunified families will be rushed through asylum proceedings at the expense of due process, without counsel.
.@ChuckGrassley asks Albence (ICE) to respond to reports of widespread sexual abuse in ICE custody. Albence says he is "very comfortable" with the services provided in family detention; he should read this chilling report from attorneys on the ground:
Commander Jonathan White testifying for Health and Human Services answers @SenFeinstein's questions about chaotic tracking efforts. When CBP sent children to ORR custody, he says, "the systems were not set up" to have referrals include parent information.
I'm not going to tweet out details of this exchange about enforcement as deterrence because 1) it's illegal & unethical to deter those seeking refuge, and 2) migration policy details are irrelevant to a person's decision to flee to save their child's life washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-ca…
.@SenatorLeahy is asking Qs with his staff holding up this sign with tips for preventing infant abduction. Just as the HHS official confirms that the government has children in custody whose parents’ whereabouts are unknown. The government cannot find these children’s parents.
.@SenatorDurbin asks Albence (ICE) to respond to reports that DHS deported as many as 350 parents without informing them of their right to reunification. To say Albence's answer is evasive is being kind - he can't respond. politico.com/story/2018/07/…
Thank you @SenatorDurbin for confronting Albence with ICE's coercive tactics. These tactics forced Ms. L - lead plaintiff in the ACLU case - to "bargain" away her right to asylum in desperate hopes of seeing her daughter. @NIJC represents Ms. L in her ongoing fight for asylum.
.@SenWhitehouse asks all 5 government officials to answer the Q, "What went wrong." Two of the five "defer" to others on the panel, "washing their hands" of it as Sen. Whitehouse notes. ICE and CBP officials refuse to acknowledge anything went wrong. Only Commander White (HHS)...
...answers: "What went wrong is children were separated from their parents and designated unaccompanied when they were in fact accompanied." In other words: Our government rendered children unaccompanied. In plain terms = kidnapping.
.@SenAmyKlobuchar is talking about AG Session's shameful decision in Matter of AB undercutting asylum protections for survivors of gang and domestic violence. USCIS official says it's "early to tell" what the impact will be. She's wrong - it's devastating. motherjones.com/politics/2018/…
.@maziehirono asks about the plan (is there one?) to reunify 431 children with their parents who are deported. Commander White: "We are actively working to make contact with all of those parents." He cannot provide the number of parents they've already contacted.
.@ChrisCoons talks about the ongoing frustrations of members of congress unable to get timely responses to their requests about family separation and reunification. Enters into the record a letter he's led with Senator Lankford demanding timely information across agencies.
.@SenBooker up now, begins by recounting his recent trip to Texas, where he crossed into Mexico and then on the way back in was met with CBP agents who told him they were turning away people who were presenting themselves to seek asylum, which our laws give them the right to do.
.@SenBooker asks Albence how ICE decides who to detain, pointing to ICE's own classification of more than half of those in immigration jails as posing zero community safety risk. We @nijc crunched that data here: immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/ice…
When ICE officials talk about the percentage of ICE arrests and detention that involve someone with a criminal conviction, it's critical to remember that the administration is systemically criminalizing migration via unlawful entry and reentry prosecutions.
Also this important tweet from my ACLU colleague @MadhuGrewal reminding electeds to call out ICE for its detention and enforcement abuses without furthering a good immigrant / bad immigrant narrative
.@SenKamalaHarris: "I believe we need to call this policy what it is: about the United States government committing a human rights violation. I believe those who created this policy and created it – including DHS Secretary Nielsen – should step down."
.@SenKamalaHarris is focusing on the children whose parents have already been deported. Commander White says that 429 children remain in government custody whose parents were deported. He says there is currently no deadline for reunifying those children. politico.com/story/2018/07/…
Matthew Albence (ICE) testifies that 1,395 pregnant women have been jailed in ICE custody this fiscal year. He struggles to answer Senator Harris's questions about the shackling of pregnant women.
The hearing is adjourned. @NIJC we will continue to call for the reunification of all families and accountability for the abuses that were committed, that continue to be committed. #FamiliesBelongTogether

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