Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Luis Gutíerrez, D-Ill., rallied 143 other members of Congress to demand immigration detention facilities immediately end their practice of charging migrant parents as much as $8 per minute to speak with their children by telephone. More than 2,400 migrant parents have been separated from their children under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
In a letter to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), the members wrote: “We write to urge you to implement immediate, nationwide changes that will permit individuals who have been separated from their children to make phone calls regularly and at no expense to them. […] No one–not private detention facilities, nor the federal government–should be in any way enriched by detained parents trying to speak with their children.”
ICE detention standards state that immigration detention facilities shall permit detainees to make direct or free calls to “immediate family or others for detainees in personal or family emergencies [….]”
“Nobody should profit off of the suffering of separated migrant children and parents. The callousness of President Trump’s family separation policy knows no bounds. These mothers, fathers, babies, and young children came here with nothing to their names, seeking refugee. We shouldn’t allow them to be exploited by private corporations in order to simply locate and speak with their children by phone. ICE should follow its own stated policy, and allow migrant parents to call their children freely,” said Polis.
“As if the Trump administration’s decision to separate families wasn’t cruel enough, the idea there would be any barriers to basic communication is outrageous and must be corrected immediately. And in the meantime, I am going to be doing everything in my power to hold President Trump’s feet to the fire until every family is back together and he drops this heartless effort to harm children and their parents,” said Sen. Murray.
“Parents fleeing violence to save their children’s lives should be treated like refugees and protected, but instead we treat them like profit centers to be nickled and dimed. As a country we can do better, and we must,” said Rep. Gutíerrez.
“We shouldn’t allow them to be exploited by private corporations in order to simply locate and speak with their children by phone.”
Congressman Jared Polis
The letter was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Council of Jewish Women, Human Rights First, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Anti-Defamation League, Friends Committee on National Legislation, MomsRising, Franciscan Action Network, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Center for Law and Social Policy.
Joining Rep. Polis, Sen. Murray, and Rep. Gutíerrez were 35 Senators and 108 Representatives, including Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (D-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Elizabeth H. Esty (D-CT), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Pramila Jayapal (D-TX), John Lewis (D-GA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), J. Luis Correa (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Bill Foster (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Grace Meng (D-NY), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Katherine Clark (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Darren Soto (D-FL), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), John Delaney (D-MD), Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), James R. Langevin (D-RI), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), André Carson (D-IN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Karen Bass (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Adam Smith (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Judy Chu (D-CA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX).