News Releases

Joined by more than 20 Democratic Senators, Senator Murray spoke out against the Trump Administration’s traumatic separation of migrant children from their parents, and repeated her unanswered questions to the Trump Administration about the families torn apart by the zero-tolerance policy

Senator Murray: “While it’s a good thing President Trump dialed back his systematic child abuse—it’s not enough”

Senator Murray: My questions to “the Trump Administration have gone unanswered, like exactly how parents are being informed about their children’s safety, where they are located, when they will be reunited?”

***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR MURRAY’S FLOOR SPEECH BELOW OR HERE***

Senator Murray decries President Trump’s cruel policy of separating migrant children from their families seeking asylum at the southern border in a Senate floor speech on June 20.

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined more than 20 of her colleagues on the Senate floor to lift up the voices of the overwhelming number of Americans outraged by President Trump’s recently-enacted family separation policy, and to demand answers about the status and well-being of children who have been separated from their parents in recent weeks. Senator Murray, the ranking member of the Senate health committee, has been seeking information from President Trump’s Health Secretary Alex Azar about the impact of the Administration’s family separation policy on the children and the crisis these separations are creating for his Department—a request that has gone unanswered. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for the care of the children detained at the border, is housed within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Excerpts of Senator Murray’s Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

“I bring to the floor of the United States Senate the outrage, the pain, and the frustration of millions of people, in my home state of Washington and across the country who see what President Trump has been doing on our southern border…. Who have refused to be silenced as President Trump carries out his hateful and divisive attacks on immigrants, and who heard a recording with the desperate cries of children calling for their parents.”

When I heard that [recording], my heart stopped, like every mom, like every human being, I just wanted to reach out and comfort that child. And I could only think how his mother felt because I assure you whether she was in that room, a room 100 miles away or a room 3,000 miles away, like every mom, she heard her cry too and her heart was broken.”

“President Trump says the executive order stops the separation—does that mean starting today? Next month? When? What about the thousands of children who were removed? Will they ever see their parents again, and if so, when? Where? I have not gotten answers from Secretary of Health Alex Azar, whose department should be focused on families’ health and wellbeing, but has instead spent that time complicit in a policy of separating families and traumatizing parents and children alike— even as experts, like the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the practice of intentionally inflicting trauma on young children is child abuse.”

“If we can find hope in one thing, it is knowing that all the calls and emails and letters—all that outcry—got through to the President to change course on one of his most heartless policies yet. But we can’t let up now. President Trump has claimed for days that he needed Congressional action to do anything at all. Today, he proved that to be simply untrue.”

Video of Senator Murray’s Remarks available HERE.

Senator Murray’s Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

“Thank you. I may only be one person, but today I bring to the floor of the United States Senate the outrage, the pain, and the frustration of millions of people, in my home state of Washington and across the country who see what President Trump has been doing on our southern border.

Who have been watching the pain this forced family separation has caused so many innocent children. Who have begged the president to pick up the phone, sign a piece of paper—  do whatever it takes to make it stop. Who have refused to be silenced as President Trump carries out his hateful and divisive attacks on immigrants, and who heard a recording with the desperate cries of children calling for their parents. And while today we saw President Trump change his story about whether he did in fact have the ability to make it stop—so many questions remain.

Questions I and others have been asking the Trump Administration for weeks have gone unanswered—like, exactly how parents are being informed about their children’s safety, where they are located, when they will be reunited? And those are just a few—there are more.

President Trump says the executive order stops the separation—does that mean starting today? Next month? When? What about the thousands of children who were removed? Will they ever see their parents again, and if so, when? Where?

I have not gotten answers from Secretary of Health Alex Azar, whose department should be focused on families’ health and wellbeing, but has instead spent that time complicit in a policy of separating families and traumatizing parents and children alike— even as experts, like the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the practice of intentionally inflicting trauma on young children is child abuse.

But M. President—while it’s a good thing President Trump dialed back his systematic child abuse—it’s not enough. We are not going to say everything is OK, and we are not going to stay quiet.  Because while we’re still digging into this new executive order—here is what we know right now.

If this is implemented, there will continue to be zero tolerance for all asylum seekers, including domestic violence survivors, a system of locking up children by the thousands, and all carried out in our great country’s name.

I just read the story of a woman named Blanca who left El Salvador after she received threats on her 8-year-old son’s life. She took those threats seriously she says. Why? Because another family member had been already been kidnapped. And as Blanca said, when the extortionists don’t get their money, they kill people. So Blanca left everything behind and sought safety for her son. Two months ago she arrived at the U.S. border to seek asylum. Blanca says that was the last time she saw or talked to her son Abel, whose last words to her were, “Don’t leave me, mom.” Blanca now sits in a federal detention center in SeaTac in Washington state, where she told her story through tears to an AP reporter.  Her son, she understands, is in custody in upstate New York—some 3,000 miles away. And she doesn’t know when—or if—she’s going to see him again.

Blanca’s story is horrifying, it’s sad. But unfortunately, it’s not unique. She is one of thousands of parents and children who fled violence and persecution, only to find a new nightmare upon arrival in the United States of American. A nightmare caused deliberately, for no good reason, by President Trump, who has chosen to scapegoat asylum seekers and put their children into detention centers for an undetermined amount of time.

We are better than this. We must be better than this. Turning children into bargaining chips, or leverage points, deterrents— that kind of cruelty should not be an option in our great nation.

Now, in recent days my office has been flooded with thousands of calls, emails, and letters from moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, people from all walks of life, from all communities I represent who are angry at the president’s new zero-tolerance policy and horrified by the families it was ripping apart—and I know I have not been alone.

If we can find hope in one thing, it is knowing that all the calls and emails and letters—all that outcry—got through to the President to change course on one of his most heartless policies yet. But we can’t let up now. President Trump has claimed for days that he needed Congressional action to do anything at all. Today, he proved that to be simply untrue.

So now that we know President Trump will bow to the stern pressure of a strong moral movement— families in Washington state and every state across our country are going to continue demanding action—and I am going to keep working to make sure they are heard, for the sake of so many who seek refuge in our great country, and those who believe in the kindness, respect, and compassion that does make this country great.

Thank you, I yield the floor.”