DENVER -- U.S. Representative Diana DeGette joined a group of lawmakers for a tour of the U.S./Mexico border this past week on a fact-finding mission. More than two dozen lawmakers, mainly from the Democratic Women’s Working Group, took part in the visit.
DeGette visited the Texas cities of McAllen and Brownsville, walked across an international bridge, stopped by an ICE processing center and detention facility and toured a tender-care facility where the children of immigrants are being held. She also spoke with about 45 mothers whose children were separated from them.
Afterward, DeGette told reporters many of those mothers didn't know where their children were being held, adding some only speak to their children once a week. She also mentioned at least two mothers were still breastfeeding when their babies were taken from them.
“Most of the people here are fleeing violence in their home countries. When we see this, it’s really un-American that we would treat individuals like this in this way as a country,” DeGette said.
The group of lawmakers also met with border agents and spoke with them about illegal crossings and how they think things should be handled differently.
“We asked them what should be done and they said, ‘We need immigration reform,’ and guess what we do,” DeGette said. “We have a broken, unhinge system where nobody knows where anybody is going and that’s why we have over 2,000 kids that still haven’t been reunited with their families. That’s why we need to pull it together and we need to have a seamless agency that will make this work.”
DeGette went on to call for the creation of an immigration czar who would be responsible for overseeing the processing and reunification of these families.
“We can do that. We’re the best country in the world,” she said.
The Democratic lawmaker has also taken steps in her role as a U.S. representative to try to change the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
She is a co-sponsor on the Keep Families Together Act, which would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from separating families at the border unless there was an extraordinary circumstance.
She’s also called for DHS secretary Kristjen Nielsen to either resign or be fired from her position. DeGette accused Nielsen of falsely blaming Democrats for this humanitarian crisis and called the DHS’s immigration policy "heartless."
On Sunday morning, DeGette visited an ICE facility in Aurora to see the conditions immigrants are being held in right in her home state. Afterward she spoke with the media about what she learned during the fact-finding mission.
Watch her remarks in the video below:
Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman also visited the U.S./Mexico border this week and met with agents in Tornillo, Texas, to talk about immigration issues.
A Colorado state representative also visited Tornillo on Sunday. House Speaker Crisanta Duran wore a green jacket with words pained on the back that read, “Colo. does care,” as she visited a tent city where children are being held.
Duran took the trip with Voto Latino and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Meanwhile in Denver, a One Voice rally is planned for Sunday to protest the separation of families. The rally will happen at Friendship Baptist Church at 2 p.m. and there will be a voter registration event before the rally itself.