HU Response to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s Statement on "Border Emergency"

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen released a statement on March 29, 2019 concerning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) response to the situation at the U.S. southern border. A response from Melysa Sperber, Director of Policy and Government Relations for Humanity United, is below:

“Last week, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen implored Congress to act immediately to address a concocted emergency on the border. Claiming that her greatest interest is in children’s well-being, Nielsen ironically proposed that policymakers strip away protections for children who may have been trafficked into the United States and who are at risk of being trafficked within our borders. This is a familiar narrative and tactic from Secretary Nielsen, but her proposal would needlessly put the lives of vulnerable children and their families in jeopardy.

“As the Administration siphons resources – both human and capital – from our military to erect caged tent cities reminiscent of humanity’s most egregious chapters, our country is sending a clear message to other governments around the world: political gains justify a false narrative that foments fear, demonizes migrants, and endangers the lives of the most vulnerable among us.

“The truth is that the only crisis at the border is a humanitarian one exacerbated by the administration’s response. The real emergency is in the Northern Triangle, and if the Administration had a genuine interest in solutions then its efforts should be focused on the root causes of violence and insecurity in the region. Instead, only days after Nielsen’s pleas to Congress to gut the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), the president announced sweeping cuts to foreign aid programs in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The consequences of this decision will inevitably push more children and families to seek refuge at the same time as the Administration uses its political capital to dismantle the system established to protect them.

“The TVPA is the cornerstone of the United States’ efforts to combat all forms of human trafficking. The protections afforded to unaccompanied children under the TVPA recognize their heightened risk to human trafficking and ensure that their basic human rights are upheld. Congress must show the world that the U.S. remains a leader in the fight against human trafficking by rejecting the administration’s pleas to erode protections and programs meant to safeguard the well-being of children and families fleeing a crisis of persecution and exploitation in Central America.”

Humanity United (HU) is a 501(c)(3) private foundation working to bring new approaches to solve intractable human rights challenges like human trafficking, mass atrocities, and violent conflict. Consistent with IRS rules for private foundations, HU does not lobby for legislation or make grants to others for legislative lobbying.