As the "pure, unadulterated evil" of President Donald Trump's family separation policy becomes more glaring with each passing day, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on Saturday visited over 170 immigrant women detained by the Trump administration at a federal facility in Washington and found that the "vast majority of the mothers have not spoken with their children in weeks and they have no idea where they are."
"Every asylum-seeker should be immediately released, reunited with their children and connected to legal services. Anything less is cruel and barbaric."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal
"What I heard from the women today being held at the detention center was heartbreaking. They are there only because of the Trump administration's cruel new 'zero tolerance' policies of family separation," Jayapal wrote after speaking with the migrant women, the vast majority of whom are asylum-seekers. "I call on the Trump administration to release all of these individuals immediately, to give them access to attorneys to quickly process their asylum claims, and for them to be immediately reunited with their children."
"Anything less is cruel and barbaric," Jayapal added.
What I heard from the women being held at the federal detention facility today was saddening and disturbing. They cried so much.
Every asylum-seeker should be immediately released, reunited with their children and connected to legal services. Anything less is cruel and barbaric. pic.twitter.com/29dZrCX3Ug
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) June 9, 2018
In addition to calling for an end to Trump's family separation policy—which, by some estimates, has ripped over 1,000 children from their parents in recent weeks—Jayapal also relayed asylum-seekers' harrowing accounts of their time detained at Border Patrol facilities, where they were denied access to food and water and abused by border agents, who "told them that their 'families would not exist anymore' and that they would 'never see their children again.'"
"This is cruel and inhumane treatment and we cannot allow it to continue," Jayapal wrote.
As Common Dreams reported on Thursday, Jayapal led a group of 111 House Democrats in calling for the defunding of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) family separation practices.
In her statement after speaking with the detained immigrant mothers—many of whom "spoke of fleeing threats of rape, gang violence, and political persecution" in their home countries—Jayapal vowed to "continue to push to defund ICE, to completely reform the immigration detention system and end mass prosecutions by the Department of Justice, and defund any [DHS] programs that break up families."