Congressman Donald Norcross

Representing the 1st District of New Jersey
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Norcross Visits Immigrant Children in South Jersey

Jul 9, 2018
News Release

The Center for Family Services in South Jersey Housed Several Youths Separated from their Families because of Trump Administration ‘Zero-Tolerance Policy’

Norcross was Barred from Immediately Visiting Separated Children in South Jersey; HHS Rep Never Showed Up to Location for Norcross Visit

CAMDEN, NJ – Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) visited a location in South Jersey where immigrant children were taken after the Trump Administration enforced a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ and he spoke to a teenager who has not yet been reunified with his family.

“I met an immigrant teen who is now in South Jersey – he’s been speaking to his detained father on Skype. They should be speaking face-to-face, not across the internet,” said Congressman Donald Norcross. “The Trump Administration’s policy to inhumanely detain immigrant kids is repulsive. Thankfully, this wasn’t a warehouse with chain-linked fencing like we saw on television, but the fact that was even a possibility is horrible. While I’m relieved the separated children in South Jersey are in good hands, they never should have ended up in this situation in the first place.” (Click here for a Facebook Live video of Norcross describing his visit to press at the Center for Family Services administrative headquarters in Camden.)

“Our goal is to keep children safe and make family reunification possible. We cannot control the circumstances in which a child may come to us, but when in our care, every child finds a comforting home and receives well-rounded services including education, recreation, and professional trauma informed care,” said Eileen Henderson, COO of the Center for Family Services.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) disallowed Norcross and other Members of Congress from immediately visiting separated children, and said they need personnel present during site visits. While Norcross protested the HHS policy and introduced federal legislation to change it, he also filled out paperwork to visit in two-weeks’ time. The Center for Family Services, with administrative offices in Camden, has been working closely with the Congressman since his office first reached out and helped arrange the visit today. HHS did not send a representative.

“HHS demanded two-weeks notice, saying they needed to attend with me, but they didn’t even show up. It’s infuriating,” said Norcross. “I’ve received hundreds of calls, emails and letters from the people I represent who are outraged by the family separation policy and wanted me to immediately visit the children brought to our area, but HHS said no. It’s called the Department of Health and Human Services, but where’s the human part?”

Norcross helped introduce the Restoring Oversight for Members of Congress Act, H.R. 6260, which would prevent visitation delays and undue obstacles for Members who seek access to facilities run by government agencies like the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS).

Norcross also supports the Keep Families Together Act, H.R. 6135, which prevents family separation and limits criminal prosecutions for asylum seekers, and he signed H.Res.927, which denounced the Administration’s immoral actions and called for the immediate reversal of the policy.

Norcross added: “I’m a father, grandfather and, like most Americans, the descendant of immigrants. I will continue to speak up until every family is reunified, and will work my hardest to ensure this never happens again.”

About the Center for Family Services

The Center for Family Services works with neighborhood residents, schools, government leaders, corporate partners, and social service providers across the community. Through more than 70 programs, the Center for Family Services offers a wide range of services. Whether it’s a child who is ready for preschool, a young person in need of the support of a mentor, a teen without a safe place to call home, a family facing the trauma of domestic violence, a person seeking help for an addiction, or a family in crisis, the Center for Family Services has dedicated staff to help.

The Center for Family Services is seeking kind and loving caregivers to become shelter home parents to provide temporary short-term care for a child or a sibling group. Shelter home parents can play an important role in keeping sibling groups together while staff works on a plan to reunite the children with their families.

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Contact: Ally Kehoe, Communications Director
ally.kehoe@mail.house.gov

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