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Letter to Customs Enforcement Director Karyn Lang

Location: Boston, MA

Letter to Customs Enforcement Director Karyn Lang

Senator John Kerry today sent a letter the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement director requesting an explanation of yesterday's incident, and urging the agency to work as quickly as possible to reunite the stranded children with their parents.

The text of the letter is below:

Karyn Lang Director Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Director Lang:

I was deeply concerned to read reports today that dozens of young children were stranded-including nursing infants-when their parents were detained as part of the immigration raid at Michael Bianco Inc.'s in New Bedford, Massachusetts. (Attached) I recognize the importance of enforcing our immigration laws and cracking down on companies that brazenly violate them, but it is absolutely critical that we do so without jeopardizing the health and safety of innocent children.

I understand that you coordinated with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) prior to the raid, and that DSS was on site during the raid. I also understand that the immigrants were questioned as they were detained in an attempt to determine whether any single parents or sole caregivers needed a humanitarian release to care for their children. The problem is that not all of the detainees indicated that they fell into this category.

It is understandable that illegal immigrants would not necessarily feel comfortable telling the truth about their children to federal officers during an immigration raid. They may not have understood the questions, they could have feared for the safety of their children, or they could have feared for their own safety.

It's clear that further steps were necessary. At a minimum, it is incumbent upon ICE to work with the state and social service agencies to ensure that children are immediately placed into safe and secure environments when they are separated from their parents.

Even if this situation was not foreseeable, ICE should have worked more closely with DSS once the problem became apparent. DSS now reports that they have been unable to get in touch with the men and women whose children have been stranded. I urge ICE to work with the Boston Detention Removal Operations and with DSS to locate the parents of stranded children and secure their release as quickly as possible.


John F. Kerry

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