MADISON, Wis. — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday issued the following statement as minors, parents and asylum seekers fleeing violence continue to be targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
“America has always been a beacon of liberty for those fleeing violence and persecution. Raids separating families are not who we are. Deportation can be a death sentence to detained minors, parents and asylum seekers. Asking children as young as three to represent themselves at hearings is a shameful miscarriage of justice that cannot be allowed to stand. Families deserve fair treatment and our compassion, not a process rigged to expose them to danger. The cruel and inhumane imprisonment and deportation of Central American refugees who have been fleeing violence must end. The president should enact a moratorium on these raids as soon as possible.
“The arbitrary separation of families and the possible deportation of Wildin Acosta, a young teenager who fled Honduras after a gang member threatened to kill him; the Bangladeshi and South Asian asylum seekers currently in corporate prisons who are on hunger strike; and the pending deportation of Ladislao Padilla-Ochoa, a father who has lived in Tennessee for almost 20 years are wrong. They must be reunited with their families.
“We need an immigration system that unites families, not one that tears them apart.”
Sen. Sanders has previously called on the Obama administration to reassess its immigration enforcement initiative and extend Temporary Protected Status to families who have fled violence in Central America. He has introduced legislation that would eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention and ban private prisons, and cosponsored legislation to guarantee due process for border refugees. Recently, he joined a letter calling for transgender detainees to be protected from abuse, unreasonable strip searches, and sexual assault while in U.S. custody.