The reality behind Family Separation: Setting record straight on Rep. Cuellar’s Updates on this issue

Letters to the Editor

On June 27, Pleasanton Express published a letter to the editor by Ruth Drew titled “Family Separation.” This piece completely misrepresented Congressman Cuellar’s record of hard work and continual strides to improve these troubling situations.

The most accurate and collective information about our current border crisis has been consistently provided by Congressman Cuellar. He repeatedly delivers updates and information through press releases, social media and interviews providing the media and his constituents with detailed data. This ensures that the public receives the most accurate numbers and information needed to assess the gravity of the migrant issue we face as a country.

Congressman Henry Cuellar is one of the few officials who understand firsthand the importance of ensuring that all individuals, especially children who travel to our US-Mexico border, are safe and cared for. He has always, and will continue, to take the migration of thousands of families and unaccompanied minors to the southern border very seriously.

As Congressman Cuellar has mentioned in the past, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separates parents or legal guardians from their children for numerous reasons. These include instances where DHS cannot ascertain the parental relationship, when DHS determines that a child may be at risk for abuse, neglect, or exploitation with the presumed parent or legal guardian, if a parent or legal guardian is referred for criminal prosecution, and if the parent or legal guardian has a medical condition, etc. Children who are separated from their parents or legal guardians are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS ORR).

As of June 26th, HHS was sheltering a total of 2,047 minors who had been separated from their parent or guardian as a result of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy. This represented only 17 percent of the over 11,000 children in HHS custody. 83 percent of the 11,000 minors being cared for by HHS arrived to the U.S. without a parent or guardian.

While it is important to talk about the issue of family separation, we must address the fact that the vast majority of children who are in HHS custody arrive to the USMexico border unaccompanied, without parents or guardians.

In Fiscal Year 2018 through May, over 32,000 unaccompanied children who have risked their lives by traveling to the United States for a chance at a better life have been apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol. Thousands of these children have been subjected to abuse by smugglers and criminals along their journey. Some did not complete their journey, falling victim to despicable human traffickers who profit from their forced labor and commercial sex.

As our nation faces the challenges of addressing our broken immigration system, we must address the underlying causes behind these staggering numbers.

I believe Congressman Cuellar will continue to offer the only legitimate solutions to our current migration crisis.

Leslie Martinez Laredo based District Press Secretary for U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (Democrat -Laredo whose district includes Pleasanton)

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