Tags: jeff merkley | white house attack | migrant children policy

Sen. Merkley: WH Attack 'Turning Attention' Away From Migrant Children Policy

Sen. Merkley: WH Attack 'Turning Attention' Away From Migrant Children Policy

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore (Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:46 PM

Sen. Jeff Merkley Wednesday hit back at the White House for a statement blaming him for policies concerning immigrants after he was blocked from entering an immigration center in Texas where he believes hundreds of children are being detained without their parents.

"All of these are about turning the attention somewhere other than their new policy of ripping children away from their parents," the Oregon Democrat told CNN's "New Day," after he was read claims made in the statement against him.

On Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said in the statement that Merkley was "irresponsibly spreading blatant lies about routine immigration enforcement while smearing hard-working, dedicated law enforcement officials at ICE and CBP."

The statement also said, as "background," that "the victims of Sen. Merkley's reckless open borders policies include his own constituents: a 65-year-old Oregon woman who was sexually assaulted by an illegal alien that had been previously deported 20 times prior, and a young Oregon girl who was allegedly raped several times by a twice-deported illegal alien," reports CNS News.

Merkley Wednesday denied he is spreading "blatant lies," telling CNN that the Trump administration started a pilot project to take away children from parents who are seeking asylum, even when they present themselves legally at border posts.

Under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, children were also detained, but Merkley pointed out that in those cases, the children were entering the country unaccompanied, but "these are children accompanied by their parents. That is new, different, and has not been done before."

Merkley also denied that he voted against catch and release loopholes that are used by child smugglers.

"No, this was the [Chuck] Grassley amendment that had unacceptable modifications of immigration policy," Merkley said. "It was basically the president's plan with none of the things we were fighting for to help the dreamers."

He also said the "reckless open borders policies" argument is one the Trump administration uses against anyone who criticizes the treatment of children.

"I advocated for closed borders," he said. "We need to strengthen our borders, use our Visas in appropriate fashion. They are just determined to sling mud to distract from their policy. Of course I'm encouraging the media, don't let them do it. Go back and talk to them about this policy about ripping away children, when [their parents] are presenting themselves for asylum."

He also stood behind his statement that children as young as four or five years of age were being held in "cages" at a holding facility in McAllen, Texas, which he was eventually allowed to tour.

"You have cyclone fencing and fence posts that look like cages," said Merkley Wednesday. "They look like the way you would construct a dog kennel."

The DOJ may not be "comfortable" with calling the dividers cages, he said, but "they are big boxes made out of wire and fence posts. Call them whatever you want. That is not the real heart of  this."

He added that what got to him was going into an adjacent warehouse, "where they have much larger versions of these fence and chain link areas. They were filled with young boys, lining up for food. The smallest was just, you know, knee high. Maybe belt high, four or five years old through 16 or 17."

The only thing the children had, said Merkley was the security of their parents, but "medical professionals are telling us that tearing them away from their parents is a horrific additional trauma. So that's what bothered me the most."

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Sen. Jeff Merkley Wednesday hit back at the White House for a statement blaming him for policies concerning immigrants after he was blocked from entering an immigration center in Texas where he believes hundreds of children are being detained without their parents.
jeff merkley, white house attack, migrant children policy
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2018-46-06
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:46 PM
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