Democratic Congressmen Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Hakeem Jeffries of New York on Monday described their "heartbreaking" trip to a detention center for illegal immigrants.
Jeffries and Pascrell were part of a group of Democratic legislators, led by New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, who visited an immigration detention center in Elizabeth, N.J., last Sunday, Father's Day.
"It was a heartbreaking emotional experience when we arrived,” Jeffries told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski. "It took about an hour and a half before we were able to actually visit with the detainees, not withstanding the fact that we have prior legal authorization from their attorneys and from these individuals themselves to meet with us."
Jeffries added that "what was amazing about the experience is that these individuals had had young children … who were ripped away them from them, 5 years old, 7 years old, 12 years old, even though they had come to the border seeking political asylum, because they had a credible fear of persecution back home."
Pascrell then noted that members of Congress are "the first responders, and we weren't shocked. When you're listening to it, when you're hearing the emotion from the fathers on Father's Day you have to sit back and you have to listen and you have to reach out and try to be of some comfort to the individual.
"We feel very strongly about this, and I want to reverse … the term that they've used and that is zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for this, I want you to know this. There were seven of us who were there. We have zero tolerance. We're going to use that term over and over again. We cannot allow this to go on."
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