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Oregon Lawmakers Demand That Feds Reverse Policy

KQEN News Radio 1240

Four members of the Oregon Congressional Delegation are demanding that federal officials immediately reverse the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy that they say has left asylum seekers in federal prisons.

On Wednesday, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley along with Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici, made the demand in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The lawmakers cited what they called a “troubling meeting” last Saturday with many of the 123 people seeking asylum that are being held in the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan.

The letter called the treatment of those being held “inhumane and un-American”. The group said they are “extremely concerned” about the conditions surrounding the detention of those being held.

The letter said that none of the asylum seekers had spoken with legal counsel about their asylum claims and some indicated a lack of access to an interpreter until the members of Congress came to the prison. The members of Congress also raised concerns that medical care at the facility was limited and that detainees are being held in their cells for 22-23 hours a day which they said is a higher level of security than what is given to convicted criminals.

The lawmakers called the situation at Sheridan “unacceptable” and said it “flies in the face of humanitarian values we hold dear across Oregon and across the United States” The group urged Sessions and Nielsen to work with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and immigration lawyers to “follow the law and provide these asylum seekers with their constitutional rights”

Read at KQEN.