WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, today in a speech on the Senate floor called on U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign for her failed leadership in the Trump Administration’s disastrous family separation policy. Nearly 2,700 children were forcibly separated from their parents at our border, with at least 136 kids still not reunited today.

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“I believe Secretary Nielsen should be held responsible, and I believe she should resign. Someone has to answer for this disgraceful chapter in America’s history,” Durbin said. “It is time for us [to] reunite these children with their parents, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. It is time for us to try to put these families back together again.”

Durbin also shared the story of a two-year-old girl and four-year-old boy he saw appear before an immigration court in Chicago on August 9, 2018. The children had been separated from their parents for months.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

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Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Durbin’s floor speech comes two days after the DHS Acting Inspector General released a report on the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy, which found that “DHS was not fully prepared to implement the Administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy or to deal with some of its after-effects,” and “DHS struggled to identify, track, and reunify families separated under Zero Tolerance due to limitations with its information technology systems, including a lack of integration between systems.”

Durbin and 23 of his Senate colleagues requested this study in March, which followed press reports of the case of a seven-year-old girl and her mother from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who were separated for more than four months after they presented themselves at the U.S. border and sought protection in accordance with the law.

Additionally, this week the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General announced that it will initiate a review of the Justice Department’s implementation of the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy. Durbin and 30 of his Senate colleagues called for this investigation in a letter to DOJ Inspector General Horowitz in July.

Known as the Northern Triangle, the countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have among the highest homicide rates in the world, and girls face a constant threat of sexual violence, with little protection from local authorities. This is why children and their families are taking extraordinary risks to flee to the U.S. border. More than 90 percent of unaccompanied children referred to HHS are from the three nations in the Northern Triangle.

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