Rep. Peters co-sponsors ‘Keeping Families Together Act’
U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) defended his co-sponsorship of the Keeping Families Together Act, which would immediately halt separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the right thing to do. Noting border issues are “complicated,” Peters said asylum seekers “have a right to a hearing and we want to give them that.” Concerning asylum seekers, Peters said, “There’s no reason not to treat them humanely. I can’t think of anything more inhumane than taking a child from his or her parents.” The bill would prohibit Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances, like trafficking indicators or other concerns of risk to the child. It also requires DHS to develop policies and procedures allowing parents and children to locate each other and reunite if they have been separated. Recently, Peters spoke out on the House floor demanding an immediate change to the separation policy. In early June, he joined Democratic colleagues to ask that the Appropriations Committee limit the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to use funds allocated to separate children and parents. The Obama Administration had been continuing a “catch and release” policy under the previous Bush Administration, which is a practice of releasing an immigrant to the community while he/she awaits hearings in immigration court, as an alternative to holding them in immigration detention. Under that policy, migrants whom U.S. immigration enforcement agencies had allowed to remain in the community pending immigrant hearings were deemed low-risk, such as children, families and those seeking asylum. “Under catch and release, if people didn’t come back for their hearing — they were expelled,” said Peters. “Most people did come back.” Peters pointed out that, though the Trump Administration has rescinded its policy of separating families, “We’re still putting them in cages on concrete floors. That’s very unAmerican. I think it’s racially driven, and not consistent with American values.” Peters is a proponent of protecting Dreamers, alien minors in the United States, with legislation that would first grant them conditional residency, while they work toward permanent residency. “That’s most obviously the least-threatening issue,” the Congressman said. “Many of these Dreamers don’t even know the language of their home country, and they’re some of the finest people you’d ever want to know.” Peters said upwards of 80 percent of Americans “want to let Dreamers be citizens.” Concerning the Trump border wall, Peters said, “The wall in so many ways is such a bad idea. Not just the fact that it would cost $20 billion, enough for one and one-half aircraft carriers. But just think what we could do with that money with homelessness or education. Our trade with Mexico is an important part of our economy, and the border is the busiest land port in the world. The notion that we would insult Mexico with this wall is just antithetical to the very character of all the communities along the border from San Diego.