Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont invoked America's history of turning away Jewish refugees during the lead up to and after the start of the second World War while urging compassion for unaccompanied undocumented minors surging across the border on Wednesday.
Leahy has in the past spoken about compassion for those at the border, calling it "nothing short of a humanitarian crisis" and arguing the United States has a "moral and legal obligation to protect those fleeing violence — especially when they are children and families."
"I also remind people of a time in the past around World War II where this country unwisely closed its borders to people who are fleeing the Holocaust in Germany," Leahy said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "They came here, they were turned back, sent back, many of them to certain death in the death camps. That was a sorry part of our history. Usually our history reflects what we see in the Statute of Liberty, a beckoning torch, but now the refugee crisis has come back to our border."
Here's the video of those remarks:
Later in his speech, Leahy again invoked the Holocaust.
"Where are those principles? We forgot them at the begin of the Holocaust. Look at the people who died. The number of Jews who went to the ovens because we forgot our principles."
Approximately 90,000 or more undocumented minor immigrants from Central America are expected to be apprehended along the southern border this year.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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