June 26, 2019
Washington D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 3401, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
Madam Speaker, let me first salute Chairwoman Nita Lowey, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and all of the appropriators – you too, Ranking Member – for their relentless, good-faith work on a strong bill that protects vulnerable children, keeps America safe and honors our values.
Madam Speaker, when people ask me what are the three most important issues facing the Congress, I always say the same thing: children, children, children.
Today, we have the opportunity to help the children. We are ensuring that children have food, clothing, sanitary items, shelter and medical care. We are providing access to legal assistance. And we are protecting families because families belong together.
Right now, children need their families. Right now, little children are enduring trauma and terror. Many are living in squalor at Border Patrol stations. Some are sleeping on the cold ground, without warm blankets or hot meals.
Kids as young as seven or eight years old are watching over infants because there is no one else there to care for them. As one little girl caring for two kids said, ‘I need comfort, too. I am bigger than they are, but I’m a child, too.’
Today, we found that the Administration is sending children back to a station in Clint, Texas from where, just days earlier, those children had been removed after enduring weeks without a shower or change of clothes. When visiting these children, one lawyer reported, ‘The children are locked in their cells… They said they can’t bring themselves to play because they are trying to stay alive in there.’
And yet, last week the Trump Department of Justice argued in court that the government should not have to provide children in custody with soap, toothbrushes or beds.
This situation is child abuse. It is an atrocity that violates every value we have, not only as Americans, but as moral beings.
Today, sadly, our values are being undermined by the President’s failed policies which have intensified the situation of heartbreak and horror, which challenges the conscience of America.
This legislation is a vote – today, our legislation is a vote against the cruel attitude towards children in this Administration. This bill does not fund the Administration’s failed mass-detention policy. Instead, it funds effective, humane alternatives to detention that have a proven record of success.
It secures – this legislation secures limits on how the money is spent and how the Administration treats children. And it creates strong oversight by Congress, so we can protect children and ensure that this crisis never occurs again.
This legislation also helps address the root causes of this situation. It reverses the Administration’s senseless decision to block humanitarian funding for the Northern Triangle countries where many of these refugees are coming from and it ensures that the funding is used by these countries to curb migration, improve border security and prevent human smuggling and drug trafficking, in addition to combatting corruption, reducing poverty and promoting growth.
That is what the bill is all about. A recent trip by some of our colleagues led by Chairman Eliot Engel and Chairman Jerry Nadler to the Northern Triangle, they saw the effective use of those funds. And while they were there, exercising oversight and the effective use of those funds at that very moment, the President reversed the policy.
And so we are launching a $200 million pilot initiative to improve the Customs and Border Protection’s processing system, based on a proposal from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.
The Evangelical community, Madam Speaker, a while back when there was a Muslim ban, when that happened, we were not in the Majority, but we did have a hearing where many people came, national security experts, diplomats – everyone came – people from faith-based organizations came, to object to the President’s Muslim ban and at that time, a representative of the Evangelical community of America – this is not an individual but a representative – stated, ‘America’s refugee resettlement program is the crown jewel of America’s humanitarianism.’
We must strengthen and protect this pillar of our immigration system and our democracy. Families belong together.
As we face the challenges presented by the President’s policies, we must help immigrants know their rights. Immigrants must know their rights. Families belong together.
Every Member of this body has a sacred moral obligation to protect the human rights and the lives of vulnerable families, no matter who they are and from where they came. They are all of God’s children and they have a spark of divinity that we must respect – and remember our own spark of divinity, as we view these children and our responsibilities to them.
I urge a strong bipartisan vote for the children, the children, the children. And I yield back the balance of my time.
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Author: Pelosi Press