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Amata welcomes Trump’s action to keep families together

Congresswoman Amata speaking with President Trump, June 19, 2018
Source: Office of the Congresswoman

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata released a statement updating immigration policy efforts, and welcoming President Trump’s announcement:

“I welcome President Trump’s decision to sign an executive order ending family separations when adults are held longer in asylum cases. He is doing the right thing,” said Aumua Amata.

“Over the past 24 hours, I discussed the immigration issue with colleagues and heard many thoughts and concerns. Even before the President’s announcement, those conversations made me optimistic the Congress would make progress in the right direction, and the President had assured us he is open to the necessary solutions,” she said.

“I support keeping families together in all but extreme cases that have been reviewed thoroughly by proper authorities, and I support sensible and prompt changes to the current practices,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “I strongly believe our national immigration policies must preserve, protect and encourage the family unit as much as possible, and I’m very pleased to see this important change.”

“In discussions with my colleagues, my guiding principle was that we should all focus on keeping the best interests of the child first, and I firmly believe we can continue to do that and still ensure the law is upheld.”


According to Associated Press, the order does not end the “zero-tolerance” policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally. But, at least for the next few weeks, it would keep families together while they are in custody, expedite their cases and ask the Defense Department to help house them. It also doesn’t change anything yet for the some 2,300 children taken from their families since the policy was put into place.

The news in recent days has been dominated by searing images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as audio recordings of young children crying for their parents — images that have sparked fury, questions of morality and concern from Republicans about a negative impact on their races in November’s midterm elections.

Until Wednesday, the president, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials had repeatedly argued the only way to end the practice was for Congress to pass new legislation, while Democrats said Trump could do it with his signature alone. That’s just what he did.

“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” said Trump, who added that he didn’t like the “sight” or “feeling” of children separated from their parents.

Under a previous class-action settlement that set policies for the treatment and release of minors caught at the border, families can only be detained for 20 days. A senior Justice Department official said that hasn’t changed.

“This is a stopgap measure,” said Gene Hamilton, counsel to the attorney general. Justice lawyers were planning to file a challenge to the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, asking that a judge allow for the detention of families until criminal and removal proceedings are completed.

So Trump’s order is likely to create a fresh set of problems and may well spark a new court fight.

It’s unclear what happens if no changes to law or the settlement take place by the time families reach the detainment deadline.

The language also leaves room to separate children from parents if it’s best for the child’s welfare.