Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) told a woman whose toddler daughter died in a hospital weeks after being released from a border facility where they were held for 20 days that she had done nothing wrong and that the Trump administration has “criminalized families” and practiced “human rights abuses on U.S. soil” during a House hearing on Wednesday.
The House Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing, entitled “Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border,” had Yazmin Juarez as the sole witness on the first panel.
Juarez’s 19-month-old daughter had died of a respiratory infection.
“Ms. Juarez, I just wanted to state for the record that you did nothing wrong,” Pressley said. “And you certainly did nothing to deserve this. Seeking asylum is a human right.”
“You did what any mother or parent would have done for their child,” Pressley said to Juarez, who is from Guatemala. “You sacrificed everything for your safety and the safety of your baby.”
“You left everything you knew for the chance of a better life,” Pressley said.
Pressley said Juarez was “embodying every American ideal that we espoused that we do.”
“And I thank you for that,” Pressley said. “It is unfortunate that our country is no longer standing by its promise of being a beacon of hope and haven for those like you seeking asylum.”
“Instead this administration has criminalized families and is now operating a fundamentally flawed system that is systemically separating families and engaging in human rights abuses on U.S. soil,” Pressley said.
Pressley then apologized to Juarez.
“So all I want to say to you from the bottom of my heart, as a mom, as an American, and as a human being is that I am sorry — I am so very sorry that we have failed you,” Pressley said.
Juarez told Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), ranking member on the subcommittee and the only Republican to ask a question at the hearing, that she wanted to stay in the United States.
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