Dem senator to invite mother and daughter separated at border to State of the Union

Dem senator to invite mother and daughter separated at border to State of the Union
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power Dem senators demand offshore drilling info before Bernhardt confirmation hearing Business groups urge Congress to combat LGBTQ discrimination in workplace MORE (D-Ore.) announced Friday that he would bring a mother and daughter who were separated at the U.S-.Mexico border as his guests to President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE’s State of the Union address.

“This child separation policy came from a dark and evil place within the heart of this administration,” Merkley said in a statement. “I’m bringing Albertina and Yakelin as my guests to the State of the Union because we need to bear witness to the suffering that this cruel policy inflicted, and resolve to make sure that nothing like this ever happens in the United States of America again.”

Merkley announced he would bring Albertina Contreras Teletor and her 11-year-old daughter, Yakelin Garcia Contreras, to next Tuesday's address.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a news release, the senator wrote that the mother and daughter were separated for nearly two months in spring 2018 after attempting to cross the border illegally. The two were later reunited in July.

The release stated that the pair were fleeing violence in Guatemala and attempted to cross a river into the U.S. after being told asylum seekers were being turned away from ports of entry. The two then surrendered to Customs officials.

“It was really terrible when they took me away from my mother, because I had no idea that we were going to be separated,” Yakelin Garcia Contreras said in the release. “She kept telling me to be strong and have faith and that we were going to be together again as they took me away. I tried really hard to do what my mom said and stay strong, but I couldn’t stop crying and crying.”

“If I could say anything to the President, I would tell him to stop separating kids from their parents because it is just too hard for us kids to lose our parents like that,” she added.

Merkley has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

In December, he accused the administration of purposefully “traumatizing” immigrant children. During the 35-day partial government shutdown, he called Trump's proposed border wall a “fourth century strategy.”

The shutdown began amid an impasse between Trump and lawmakers over his demands for billions of dollars in funding for a U.S.–Mexico border wall.