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Senators Press DOD to Halt Funding of Immigration Detention Centers

December 14, 2018, 8:58 AM HST
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U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led a group of 13 senators in calling on the Department of Defense to stop providing any funds or resources to support immigration detention. The call comes after President Donald Trump laid out plans that his administration would build “massive cities of tents.”

“There is currently no justification for the use of military funds or resources for immigration detention,” the senators wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis. “We urge you to clarify that DOD has not and will not participate in immigration detention. If plans are already underway, we urge you to immediately halt any progress.”

In their letter, the senators underscore warnings from medical professionals and health experts on the harm family detention has on children. Earlier this month, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died from dehydration after being detained by Customs and Border Protection following a border crossing. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were nearly 50,000 families apprehended in the last two months on the southern border.

Joining Sen. Schatz on the letter are U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

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Download a copy of the letter here.

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