Senate Democratic leaders are challenging President Obama's immigration policies, telling him it is “unacceptable” to detain women and children seeking asylum.
Ten senators signed a letter saying they are concerned about the physical safety and due process rights of the women and children that would be detained at a new detention facility. There have been reports of substandard conditions and sexual assault at other centers.
The lawmakers said because the women and children are fleeing abuses back home, they are unlikely to flee custody. Previously, the administration had not detained women and children, but instead released them to sponsors until their asylum hearings.
Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyDems get it wrong: 'Originalism' is mainstream, even for liberal judges Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch MORE (Vt.), Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (Nev.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Patty MurrayPatty MurrayInspector general reviewing HHS decision to halt ObamaCare ads Dems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Mark Udall (Colo.) signed the letter Thursday.
The senators questioned Johnson's decision to build the nation's largest immigration detention facility in Dilley, Texas. DHS announced the construction of the new 2,400-bed facility as part of its efforts to address this year’s influx of thousands of children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
“We have heard significant concerns regarding the conditions of confinement and obstacles to due process for detainees,” the senators wrote. “We are troubled by your apparent decision to make permanent and greatly expand the policy of family detention against the backdrop of these problems.”