Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said on Friday that the United States government should pay reparations to families that were separated after they entered the United States legally or illegally and faced immigration proceedings.
Jayapal appeared on MSNBC to talk about her interaction with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker during a House Judiciary hearing on Friday, where she asked him about family separations.
“Our country is still reeling from the horror of family separations that occurred at the border,” Jayapal said ahead of questioning Whitaker.
Jayapal told MSNBC host Joy Reid that the separations are “a heinous crime that has been committed on thousands of children.”
Jayapal slammed Whitaker for what she called a “dismissive” attitude and for saying that people have “a lot of passion” about children whose parents brought them to the border and an uncertain fate.
“This is an issue that I know there is a lot of passion about,” Whitaker said. “I appreciate your passion.”
“It’s something we share together,” Whitaker said.
“If we all don’t have real passion, real commitment to figuring out what happened and making reparations, the U.S. government should make reparations for what we have done to these families,” Jayapal said.
Jayapal posted the MSNBC interview on her Twitter account.
I’m proud of my passion, Mr. Whitaker. We all should show real passion and a real commitment to fixing what was done to these families and these children. This is lasting trauma for thousands of children—we must make reparations. pic.twitter.com/hceesi4xk5
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) February 9, 2019
According to a Health and Human Services (HHS) press release from June, the difference in how immigration cases are adjudicated causes family separation.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have a process established to ensure that family members know the location of their children and have regular communication after separation to ensure that those adults who are subject to removal are reunited with their children for the purposes of removal. The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families.
As part of the apprehension, detention and prosecution process, illegal aliens, adults and children, are initially detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before the children are sent to HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and parents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. Each entity plays a role in reunification. This process is well coordinated.
William Barr is expected to replace Whitaker next week if the Senate confirms him as the next Attorney General.