“Everything that I saw today confirmed my worst fears,” Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen told WUSA 9 via FaceTime Sunday evening.
Instead of spending this Father’s Day with his own children, Van Hollen was one of eight lawmakers to tour a processing center in McAllen, Texas. He also visited a site near Brownsville, TX and tells WUSA 9 he spoke with an emotional mother currently separated from her child.
Why Van Hollen?
The Maryland Senator told WUSA 9 he had enough and wanted to investigate this policy of separating children for himself. Cameras were not allowed inside the facilities he toured, so he describes it for us.
“In that center, you had people sort-of huddled in these very large pens with chain-linked fence, including a lot of kids, masses of kids huddled together,” he said. The Senator says this facility had over 100 separated kids inside.
Van Hollen tells WUSA9 what he saw is the result of the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy.”
It’s a practice put in place last month to deter illegal border crossings.
The Administration is now criminally prosecuting the people caught crossing the border illegally, which means detention for the adults until they get a trial.
The result: separations.
The Department of Homeland Security recently reported nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents or guardians under the new policy. More specifically, DHS says 1,995 minors have been separated from 1,940 adults in a six week period, from April 19th to May 31.
WUSA 9 asked the Maryland lawmaker how this impacts Marylanders.
“It impacts them as Americans, who are watching our country as a deliberate policy take kids away from their moms and dads,” Van Hollen said, “We can have sound border security. We can protect our borders without having an inhumane policy.”
President Trump has continued to blame Democrats for the policy.
“I hate it,” he told a press gaggle outside of the White House, “I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”
CBS News’ Paula Reid pointed out at a recent White House Press Conference that there is no law that requires families to be separated at the border.
“Just real cruel to be holding children hostage as part of a legislative strategy,” said Van Hollen, who repeated his call to the President to end the policy on Father’s Day in multiple Facebook and Twitter posts.
This week, the House is expected to take-up two Republican Immigration Bills. Van Hollen told WUSA 9 the President has the power.
“He could end it right now. He has the power to do it regardless of what Congress does or does not do,” said Van Hollen.