Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-TX, and Sen. Bernie Sanders I-VT this week were joined by Sens. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to reintroduce legislation to allow members of Congress immediate access to federal facilities, including migrant children quarters following reports of abuse.
“Trump and his administration have shown they can’t be trusted to protect and provide for migrant children’s basic needs. We’re talking soap, toothbrushes, food, medical care,” Wyden said.“The Trump administration is afraid of letting Congress and the American people see the full extent of its cruelty in these detention facilities, so we must force its hand.”
“Members of Congress are the eyes and ears of the American people. Their role is to ensure Americans’ tax dollars and will is being executed properly. Given Congress’ duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch, it’s critical that we can conduct inspections to ensure children already suffering trauma are, at a minimum, safe and taken care of. Though we have yet to change our immigration policies, we have a responsibility to ensure that these conditions are at least humane. No administration should have the power to declare federal, taxpayer-funded facilities off-limits to oversight.”
“I have visited the border, and I have seen the tragedy the President’s policies have created there. His family separation policy is a dark mark on our nation’s history. And his Justice Department has argued that toothbrushes, soap, and even sleep are not necessary for the wellbeing of children. It is clear that Congress cannot trust this Administration to do the right thing – and now more than ever that we need increased oversight over these facilities. We have a responsibility to the people we represent – and the entire country – to oversee these federal agencies, and this legislation will allow us to do just that. I urge my colleagues to move forward on this bill immediately – the need for action is dire,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen.
“The horrific conditions inside federal immigration facilities under the Trump administration are unacceptable,” said Sen. Sanders. “I am proud to cosponsor this bill to restore Congress’s constitutional oversight role over both a cruel and broken immigration system and a president who thinks he is above the law. We must ensure that no man, woman or child is mistreated by U.S. immigration authorities.”
The Restoring Oversight for Member of Congress Act bill contains limited exceptions for national security reasons, and creates a process for members to access sensitive and secure facilities. The bill also calls for penalties if an agency denies a member access.