Monday, November 13, 2017
Duckworth Joins Call for Investigations into Reported Violations of Immigration Enforcement at Sensitive Locations
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Following reports that a young girl with cerebral palsy was detained on her way to receive surgery, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and 12 other senators today in calling for an investigation into ongoing violations of federal policies regarding immigration enforcement at sensitive locations like schools, hospitals and religious institutions. Senator Duckworth has been outspoken about the harmful effects of invasive U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforcement actions in personal spaces like schools, churches and hospitals.
“If these reports are accurate, these actions are not only horrifying—they are also an egregious violation of established Department policy,” the Senators wrote. “We ask that the Department launch an investigation into possible violations of the sensitive locations policy.”
The Senators’ letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Acting Customs and Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan details the reported detention of a 10-year-old girl who was stopped by immigration authorities on her way to the hospital for gallbladder surgery. Armed agents later arrested her directly from her hospital bed as she was recovering from the surgery. Last month, following a National Public Radio report on the parents of a two-month-old baby who were apprehended at a hospital while seeking lifesaving medical care for their son, Duckworth and a group of 20 Senators wrote Duke to seek answers about the Department’s current immigration enforcement policies. The Senators have not yet received a response to their inquiry.
The ICE and CBP sensitive locations policies state that enforcement actions at sensitive locations should be avoided whenever possible and require either exigent circumstances or prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official. Last year, federal agents arrested an undocumented immigrant after luring him out of a church service in Schaumburg, Illinois. Duckworth raised concerns at the time of the incident and continues her work today to ensure DHS does not violate ICE and CBP sensitive locations policies. Today’s letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tom Udall (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Al Franken (D-MN).
The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here and copied below.