HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono blasted the inhumane conditions at the country’s border detention centers in a news conference Thursday morning, taking aim at a system she says is endangering the health and safety of immigrant children.
Hirono ― who was born in Japan to a Japanese-American mother and immigrated to Hawaii with other members of her family as a child ― grew emotional at times during the press conference, which was held to introduce a new bill that is meant to aid immigrant children in those detention facilities.
“When you saw the pictures, the kids, these detention facilities. When you saw the father, that little girl drowned in the Rio Grande ― and if you didn’t feel shame, pain. If you weren’t appalled by these pictures, then something is dead or dying in your hearts and in the heart of America,” Sen. Hirono said.
The photo in which Hirono referenced was an image that captured the bodies of an immigrant father and his daughter, both drowned and lying face-down in the waters of the Rio Grande.
The image, which went viral on social media, caught the attention of many who considered it proof of the life-threatening dangers migrants face when they try to cross the border to America.
Hirono has long considered herself an ally to migrants, fighting against many Trump administration changes to immigration policies. Her appearance Thursday was to introduce the “Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act.”
Hirono says the bill aims to end the separation of migrant children and their families, while improving the living conditions in border detention facilities through clear standards for the treatment and health of children under America’s care.
Hirono urged for the country’s support of this act, saying: “This is a bill that needs to pass.”
The introduction of this bill comes hours after the announcement that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin their previously postponed raids across the country this Sunday.
Officials say that ICE agents are targeting thousands of migrant families who already have court orders to be removed.