US Senator, Jeff Merkley, has continued to press the need for comprehensive immigration reform and for asylum seekers to receive humane treatment. In town halls in Boardman and Pendleton on Sunday, Merkley touted the Senate immigration bill, which failed to pass the House of Representatives in 2013, saying it would have created a pathway to US citizenship for the young undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors, while also strengthening border security.
Merkley says there was another chance at immigration reform last year, but that President Donald Trump backed out after criticism from conservatives, yet expressed hope that, following the conclusion of the midterm elections in November, the prospect of immigration reform could emerge again. Merkley added that the policy that led to immigrant children being separated from their parents was ‘a big mess’ and an unnecessary one, given that there was a Family Case Management program in Immigration and Customs Enforcement until the current administration shut it down.
Merkley said the program gave asylum seekers an interpreter and kept them monitored and on track for their court hearings, and that participants attended such hearings 100% of the time, according to the report from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
Crowds were primarily supportive of the Senator at the two events, with around 80 attending the meeting at Pendleton but fewer than 20 at the Port of Morrow. Merkley addressed similar issues at each, including his visit to the Texas border.