WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after the American Immigration Council (AIC) filed a complaint with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), calling on ICE to release infants with their mothers from custody. A t least nine infants under one year of age are being held in a family internment center in Dilley, Texas.
“Babies don’t belong in jail. Period. No infant should ever be locked up in a detention center.
“ICE is putting these babies’ health and well-being at risk by keeping them trapped in facilities with inadequate infant medical care. What’s more, no moral human being supports locking up babies behind barbed wire. The administration should release these infants and their mothers immediately.”
On June 3, Merkley set off a national firestorm when he went to the border to personally investigate the administration’s child separation policy and was turned away from a children’s detention center in Brownsville, Texas. Merkley pressured the Trump administration to back down from this cruel policy of separating children from their parents, but the administration has been determined to keep pursuing policies that inflict trauma on children and families fleeing persecution abroad — one of which is to incarcerate as many migrant families as possible in family internment centers. In December, Merkley led a congressional delegation to investigate the conditions at Dilley, where Merkley met with a mother whose child had been incarcerated with her at Dilley for nearly six months.