ELIZABETH, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and leader in Congress on immigrant rights and immigration policy, today led a Rally to Reunite Families outside the Elizabeth Detention Center with more than 100 multidenominational faith leaders, supporters and advocates from across New Jersey to demand the Trump Administration do everything possible to reunite the 2,300 infants, toddlers and teens separated from their parents at the southern border, and to put an end to indefinite incarceration for asylum seekers.
“As a Catholic who is appalled by what’s being done in the name of my Christian faith and as a father who knows no love is more universal than the love for your child. Anyone who has known that love knows that these parents are living their worst nightmare,” Sen. Menendez said. “We stand together, as Christians, Muslims, Jews, and as everyday human beings to say once and for all that all families belong together.”
The religious leaders who joined Sen. Menendez at the rally included Rev. Timothy Graff of the Newark Archdiocese, Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz from Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston and Imam Mohammad Qatanani from the Islamic Center of Passaic County. The crowd also heard from Mario, an asylum-seeker who fled violence in his native El Salvador and whose children were separated from their mother while trying to lawfully enter the U.S. Mario is also a member of Make the Road N.J.
During a resounding Floor Speech against the Trump Administration earlier this week, Sen. Menendez played audio from ProPublica of children in detention centers screaming for their parents taken from them.
Earlier this week, Sen. Menendez joined other Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee in demanding to know how the Trump administration is ensuring the safety of children separated from their parents under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy and how the administration plans to reunify children and families in a letter sent to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar.
Sen. Menendez is an original cosponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to keep immigrant families together and prevent DHS from separating children from their parents at the border. All 49 members of the Democratic caucus support the Keep Families Together Act. He was a member of the so-called “Gang of Eight” that passed bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform by an overwhelming, veto-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, only to be blocked by Republican leaders from ever coming to a vote in the House. Sen. Menendez was also a member of the “Gang of Six” that crafted a bipartisan DACA bill to provide DREAMers with a pathway to citizenship that garnered 54 votes in the Senate, after the President refused to support it.
Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, a member of the N.J. Black Mayors for Social Justice Alliance, Lauren Major, an Immigration Attorney from American Friends Service Committee and Rev. Pablo Pizarro a member of the National Evangelical Coalition and the NJ Latino Pastors and Ministers Coalition also attended the rally. Representatives from the following organizations also showed their support at today’s rally: N.J. Clergy Coalition; Make the Road N.J.; Indivisible; Action Together N.J.; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); New Jersey Civil Liberties Union (NJCLU); American Friends Service Committee; N.J. Citizen Action; First Friends NJ/NY; Latino Action Network; and Blue Wave N.J.