Area lawmakers rebuke the separation of children, call for bi-partisan legislation to stop it

Jul 5, 2018

After touring Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids Thursday morning and meeting children who have been separated from their parents at the US/Mexico border, four members of Congress called for new legislation that prohibits the separation of families seeking asylum in the United States.

United States Representatives Dan Kildee, Bill Huizenga, Debbie Dingell and Tim Ryan held a joint press conference at Grand Valley State University Thursday after touring Bethany Christian Services, one of two Michigan organizations that house children who have been separated from their parents at the US and Mexico border.  

The organization currently houses around 50 of those children. While a US District Judge last week ordered children under the age of 5 to be reunited with their families by July 10, Representative Kildee said the trauma these children have suffered will linger long after next Tuesday.  

“They still carry with them the memory of the moment that they were taken from their mom or dad or grandparent, and in some cases not even being told where they are going,” Kildee said. “That is something that they will keep with them forever, sadly.”

While the four lawmakers all had high praise for how Bethany Christian Services si treating the children, Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga attacked the Trump administration for its handling of the situation.

“I clearly disagree with the stance that the Administration took on separation because I was the first one in the delegation to introduce a piece of legislation to do so, and we have to figure out a way to do this,” Huizenga said.  

That piece of legislation is the Family Reunification Act, which would require “Homeland Security to reunite unaccompanied alien children with the parents or legal guardians with whom they entered the United States.”

According to Rep. Kildee, Bethany Christian services has already reunified a “handful” of children with their parents and are committed to getting all of the children reunited with their parents by next Tuesday.