May 09, 2013

DURING FIRST DAY OF IMMIGRATION REFORM MARK UP, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ADOPTS HIRONO AMENDMENT THAT STOPS FAMILIES FROM BEING TORN APART AT THE BORDER

Committee Also Approves Hirono Amendment Strengthening Department Of Homeland Security Official Charged With Protecting Those Navigating The Immigration System

WASHINGTON, DC – During the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s markup of immigration reform legislation, the committee adopted two of Senator Mazie K. Hirono’s measures that would protect families and strengthen our immigration system.

“We are a nation of immigrants and we all have stories to tell,” Hirono said at the start of the mark up (video link). ”My story is of a very courageous mother who brought me and my two brothers to this country. I am an immigrant. She did this and raised three of us by herself because of her avowed belief that we could have better lives in this country called America.So as we go forward,always remember - immigrants are human beings with families.”

The committee adopted Hirono’s “Protect Family Values at the Border Act” that would stop families from being torn apart at the border by allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider keeping families together during removal.

Right now, many families are torn apart at the border since current law requires many adult men to be transferred to a border location hundreds of miles away from where they were intercepted. Meanwhile, their families are simply sent back across the border at the place they were intercepted with no money and no idea of where their husbands or fathers were taken. The situation leaves the women and children vulnerable to trafficking, sexual violence and other dangers.

The committee also approved another amendment offered by Hirono that would strengthen the Department of Homeland Security official charged with protecting the rights of those navigating the immigration system.

Hirono has been an outspoken advocate for family unity and immigrant success during the immigration debate and has offered a series of amendments that would strengthen the immigration reform bill in those regards. Earlier this year, she chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the challenges women and families face in the immigration system.

You can watch Hirono’s opening statement at today’s meeting here: http://youtu.be/OL9LZ6iVnL8