Yesterday I contacted all of my representatives on Capital Hill about my horror of the policy of separating children from their families (genetic or otherwise). I specifically requested that they not provide a response to my email as in the past they have never answered my questions directly and have wasted my time with canned answers that never addressed my specific questions.
Nonetheless, I received a response from Meadows. I am personally so disgusted with his actions and votes that he is nothing more than something that needs to go far away from Capital Hill.
Here is the response I received.
Cedar Mountain, NC 28718-8004Dear Ms. Kimberly Coram:
Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns about undocumented immigrant children. It’s an honor to serve the people of North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district, and I appreciate the opportunity to hear your thoughts on this issue.
I share your concern for policies that cause parents to be separated from children while seeking asylum in the United States. As a father, I cannot imagine anything more heart wrenching than being separated from your children while entering a new and unknown country. I introduced H.R. 6134, the Equal Protection of Unaccompanied Minors Act, which, among other provisions, would end this practice of separating minors apprehended at the border from their parents. You can read more about the bill here: https://meadows.house.
The reasons for separation are if officials find that the adult is falsely claiming to be the child’s parent, is a threat to the child, or is put into legal proceedings. From October 2017 to February 2018, the Department of Homeland Security has reported a 315% increase from the previous year in criminal illegal aliens using children to pose as family members to gain entry to the United States. Many of the stories of children being separated from adults at the border are from situations where adults were fraudulently claiming children as their own for preferential entry.
This issue can be traced to the Flores Settlement Agreement from 1997 – a legal agreement that requires the federal government to release undocumented immigrant children, first to their parents if possible, to other adult relatives if not, and to licensed programs willing to accept custody if no relatives are available. Court decisions over time have refined how this policy is applied, and as it currently stands, the government is required to release children from custody if they come to the border on their own or with their parents, but parents are not required to be released along the same timeline.
Under existing policies, 48 hours after being taken into custody, children who enter the country illegally are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement, which seeks to place them with family members if possible. After a child is placed with a family member, HHS does a follow-up call after 30 days to check in on the child. This practice is not mandated by statute – it is done out of concern for the welfare of the child.
Again, thank you for contacting me. If you would like to discuss this issue further with a member of my staff, you are welcome to call my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-6401. To stay up to date on my work in North Carolina and Washington, you can sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Facebook.
Member of Congress