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Immigration & National Security Experts Discuss Trump’s SOTU Address; Family Separation Hearings; Possible National Emergency Declaration

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A recording of the call is available here.

Earlier today immigration and national security experts and advocates gathered on a press call to discuss Trump’s State of the Union address, as well as the first oversight hearing on the Trump Administration’s family separation policy, and a potential national emergency declaration.

Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel, said “What we saw this week was, once again, a display of a President who won’t back down on fulfilling a campaign promise that started out as a mnemonic device and has turned into a demand, threats, and the longest ever shutdown.  All for a promise that has little to do with effective border security. This week we also finally began to see appropriate oversight of one of the worst immigration policies in modern American history – the inhumane family policy separation. We hope that next week’s hearing in the House Judiciary Committee will continue to draw out the truth of what happened so that this shameful policy can finally end, we prevent it from happening in the future, and we appropriately care for the families who were cruelly separated and detrimentally harmed under this shameful policy.

Ned Price, Director of Policy and Communications of National Security Action, said “I want to make two key points. First, avoiding another shutdown is very much a national security priority and, in fact, an imperative. Second, building a border wall is NOT a national security priority. It is, in fact, a political imperative for this President. It is fair to say that the administration was responsible for a dangerous and self-inflicted wound with the last shutdown, whose residual effects would be compounded if there’s another shutdown in the coming days. We’ve heard from many national security experts of the last shutdown’s toll, in the cyber realm, within DHS, and in terms of the FBI. The FBI was vocal: financial security is national security. FBI officers were locked out of FBI systems because their clearances were not renewed. On Tuesday, we heard from national security experts and, in their prepared statements, we heard about the influx of asylum seekers and migrants at southern border ask seeking a better life for families not posing national security threats that the Trump administration has tried to make us believe.”

Kerri Talbot, Director of Federal Advocacy for the Immigration Hub, said “It’s imperative that we move toward a more humane enforcement system. This past year, we’ve seen children killed at the border, families separated and thousands more people in immigration jails. It’s completely unacceptable that the Trump Administration is overspending and ramping up its immigration enforcement without Congressional authorization. We need increased Congressional oversight. Hopefully any conference agreement will make some first steps toward creating that accountability and reducing funds for Trump’s deportations and jails for immigrants.”

Lee Gelernt, civil rights lawyer for ACLU, said “The Trump administration is being held to account by the courts and Congress for its cruel and illegal family separation policy.”

Jennifer Podkul, Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy at KIND, said “KIND is encouraged to see Congress conduct oversight on the harmful family separation policy that has traumatized thousands of children and families. We hope that this investigation will not only shine light on the egregious actions of last summer, but that policies will be put in to place to ensure that any child who comes to the United States seeking protection will be treated fairly and with the care that all children deserve.”