Sen. Carper Response to AC Member Becky S. on Support for S.397
July 2, 2019
Dear Mrs. Scarborough,
Thank you for contacting me to express your support for S.397, the Shut Down Child Prison Camps Act, and S.388, the Families not Facilities Act. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue.
The United States has been struggling to manage an unprecedented migration of families and unaccompanied children from Central America who are making their way to the southern U.S. border. Many of these people have come to this country to escape drug and gang related violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. As a result of this surge, and continued Congressional inaction to enact comprehensive immigration reform, our detention facilities are overcrowded, immigration court proceedings are backlogged, and our law enforcement resources at the border are stretched paper thin.
As you mentioned in your letter, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced S.397, the Shut Down Child Prisons Act and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced S.388, the Families, Not Facilities Act on February 7th, 2019. S.397 would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from operating “temporary emergency shelters”, the facilities from which the most troubling reports regarding the mistreatment of children have originated. S.388 would re-appropriate funds from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). These funds would be used to implement a case management program for children and families. Both bills have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Should I have the opportunity to consider S. 397 and S. 388 before the full Senate, I will be sure to keep your views in mind.
That being said, our nation is one built and made better by the contributions of immigrants and to deny this truth is to reject that which makes us fundamentally American. Welcoming immigrants into our country not only aligns our public policies with our most deeply held values, but it also provides us with goods and services that help benefit all Americans. Ultimately, to ignore the positive contributions of immigrants and blame all of our society’s ills on immigration is irresponsible and shortsighted. Like you, I am horrified by this administration’s treatment of the migrants at the detention facilities. I strongly believe that our nation has a moral duty to care for the “least of these” among us, words inscribed in the words of Matthew 25 in the Bible, when Jesus asks, “When I was a stranger in your land, did you take me in?” That Golden Rule is shared, in one form or another, by every major religion around the world. Those words are particularly important now.
I have long believed that we should invest in smart and compassionate approaches to addressing the crisis at our southern border. In keeping with that belief, I along with a number of my colleagues introduced a plan that will help reduce the root causes of migration to our southern borders—the crime, violence, and lack of economic opportunity that lead so many to seek safe refuge and a better life here in the United States. Called the Central America Reform and Enforcement Act, this legislation will improve conditions in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, by providing assistance to those governments to restore the rule of law; create a more secure environment for children and families; reduce corruption; and promote economic opportunities in their countries. This plan, if implemented over the course of several years, will greatly reduce our need to fund expensive, and sometimes wasteful, approaches to border security at our southern border that only address the symptoms of the problem. I am hopeful that the Administration will join us in supporting this common-sense approach.
Going forward, I will continue to monitor the actions of the Trump administration and I will continue to call for a humane and compassionate approach toward those arriving at our borders.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions about this or any other matter of importance to you.
With best personal regards, I am
Sincerely, Tom Carper United States Senator