Government

Congressman Fitzpatrick Calls Separating Child From Parents ‘Heartless & Inhumane’


Children in large cages at a detention facility.
Credit: Department of Homeland Security

Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has slammed the current administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border after illegal crossings.

In a statement sent to NewtownPANow.com, Fitzpatrick said he understands the threats that come from a “porous border and a fragmented and broken immigration system.” However, he added that he is against the “heartless and inhumane practice of separating children from their parents at the border.”

“This extreme measure must end. It is an ineffective deterrent against illegal immigration, and children should not have to face traumatic ordeals given the actions of their parents,” Fitzpatrick said.

The first-term elected official and former FBI agent said congress has waited to resolve the problem at the borders and “inaction is unacceptable.”

“I will continue to demand debate and a vote on legislative solutions to secure our borders, respect the rule of law, and protect the dignity and humanity of our children. The time is now to act. We cannot and must not allow partisanship and gridlock to prevent sensible fixes from being implemented. Our nation’s security and our nation’s children depend on us,” Fitzpatrick said.

Democrat Scott Wallace, Fitzpatrick’s challenger in the congressional race, also denounced the Trump administration’s policy.

“Trump can end this cruelty at any point. Separating children from their parents at the border is inhumane, ineffective, and causing lifelong trauma for children and families already fleeing violence. It must end. @BrianFitzUSA’s silence is deafening and spineless,” he tweeted.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who represents Pennsylvania, was on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show Monday and said he was not an expert on the issue.

“I’m going to have to drill down into this and address it. And maybe you’re right. Maybe this is happening with a higher frequency than I’ve been aware of, and it is certainly, it’s just not the right thing to be doing,” Toomey said on-air.

The politicians statements come after controversy built over the weekend after images of immigrant children being kept in cages in large warehouses and sleeping under mylar blankets were released by federal officials. The controversy further stepped up Monday after President Donald Trump’s administration shifted the blame on their “zero tolerance” measures and gave conflicting statements about their policy.

Credit: Submitted

Last Friday, the weekly Fridays Without Fitzpatrick demonstration drew more than 100 people to show up to make their voices heard on the separation of children and their families.

“We counted 138 courageous and concerned citizens who came to our 66th Fridays Without Fitzpatrick today because they are seeing our Republican leaders bringing forth an ugly immoral America ” said Steve Cickay of Newtown. “These brave citizens don’t want to be complicit in silence with the Republican policy of separating mothers from their children and putting children into cages.”

By Saturday afternoon, the demonstrators signs were pinned to the fence along the Newtown Bypass outside Fitzpatrick’s Middletown office.

“By entering our country illegally – often in dangerous circumstances – illegal immigrants have put their children at risk,” Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters during Monday’s White House briefing.

On Monday afternoon, nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica published audio of separated children sobbing and screaming at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. In one portion of the audio, a man identified as a border agent can be heard joking about the children’s crying.

“We are taking care of these children; they are not being abused,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on a Fox News Channel opinion show Monday night. “We’ve had a big surge of families bringing children or some adults bringing children with them.”

While the White House has said the children of immigrants who have entered the United States illegally are not being separated from their parents as a deterrence, Sessions made a statement indicating that was the idea behind the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

“Hopefully people will get the message,” Session said on Fox News Channel.

In addition to being denounced by Democrats and many Republican elected officials, including Fitzpatrick, former First Lady Laura Bush, a Republican, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that called the policy  “cruel” and “immoral.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also warned the policy of separating young children from their parents can cause “irreparable harm.”

Last month, Fitzpatrick signed a discharge petition with members of the bi-partisan Problem Solvers Caucus to bring a number of immigration bills to the floor for debate and a vote.

Below is Fitzpatrick’s full statement: 

I ran for Congress to make a difference and to actually get things done. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I’ve seen firsthand the threats our nation faces from a porous border and a fragmented and broken immigration system.

I firmly detest the heartless and inhumane practice of separating children from their parents at the border. This extreme measure must end. It is an ineffective deterrent against illegal immigration, and children should not have to face traumatic ordeals given the actions of their parents. We have waited over a year and a half for Congress to resolve the crisis on our borders. Inaction is unacceptable.

I will continue to demand debate and a vote on legislative solutions to secure our borders, respect the rule of law, and protect the dignity and humanity of our children. The time is now to act. We cannot and must not allow partisanship and gridlock to prevent sensible fixes from being implemented. Our nation’s security and our nation’s children depend on us.


About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: tom@newtownpanow.com Phone: 215-431-1001