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What Does a Response to a Gold Star Dad Cost?


Sen. Pat Toomey, What Does a Response to a Gold Star Dad Cost?


Senator Pat Toomey,

My name is Fred Boenig. I live in Emmaus, just a short distance from your home. I’ve lived in PA for 18 years. My wife and I have 5 children. Four of them served in the US Military. One son served in the Army, and he had two tours in Afghanistan. On his first one, he got a Purple Heart after he was hit with a grenade. He was a Crew Chief on a Black Hawk when he got out. Another son was in the Air Force. He died in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving with JSOC. Another son was a Marine, serving in South Korea. He just graduated from Penn Tech. Our daughter was in the Navy, and she graduated from Penn State. Then, she volunteered for a year with AmeriCorps. She will begin earning her Master’s Degree at the University of Wyoming next fall. The oldest son is a Union Roofer, has five children and lives in Hellertown, PA. Two of those young men were Eagle Scouts---like you. Three of them have visited Israel.

Four weeks ago, I visited your office in Allentown. I was “buzzed” in, and the young man at the desk greeted me. I handed him my business card and told him about my family. I have one question for the Senator, I said: what is he doing to get those immigrant kids back to their families?” He said, “Well if you watch the news…” I interrupted him and pointed at my business card and said, “I’m in the News Business” He began to explain that you and Senator Ted Cruz had Co-sponsored a bill. I also pointed out that the bill did nothing to help get the kids back after the POTUS took back the Executive Order. I said, “The Senator said earlier this week he wasn’t up on the facts.” The young man said “That was Tuesday” I said, “Yes and today’s Thursday. so please get my question to him, I’ll hope he will be quick to answer because the last time I asked to speak with him the staff said he was “Too busy and we don’t give out his schedule.” I said to him “I wrote an OP-ED in my magazine to “encourage” him and that only took two days to get his attention. 

Well, Sir, I visited the next week to your office and the same young man was there and I asked if he remembered me. He said, “Yes.” I informed him that I hadn’t heard from you.

He said he had given my info to your press person. I then pointed to the pins on my pocket- A Gold Star and three Blue Stars- and said “You see these? Well, they are for my children that fought and died for this country-I promise you there is nothing worse than disrespecting a Gold Star Family or ignoring one.” Please explain that I fully expect an answer quickly.” Then I thanked him and left.

Since then I’ve visited your Twitter account- On June 19th you tweeted

Senator Pat Toomey‏Verified account @SenToomey Jun 19

Senator Pat Toomey Retweeted Marco Rubio

Agree with @MarcoRubio. Congress should act.

Since June 19th not a word about the Children.

Senator Toomey, is that the best you can do to pretend you care? I mean, I get you like to have your picture with real Soldiers to make it look like you care about the military. I get that you see nothing wrong with taking babies and small children and traumatizing them for life by creating separation anxiety that will cause harm to them the rest of their lives. I get that these people the POTUS says are “infesting” our country are not even in your paradigm, since they won’t be donating to your next campaign. I get that you can’t find the time to visit the border and the detention camps. (Could it be your supporters are financially benefiting from the for-profit prison system?) I get that you don’t find it outrageous that infants are representing themselves in court. I get that you are more concerned with getting another biased SCOTUS Judge on the court. I get that you care more about Tariffs than you do small children. I get that you are “Pro-Life,” but watching an administration permanently damage young children and not speak out is just another example of the hypocrisy you and your party have forcefully clung to. I get that you know in your heart, I would never donate a dime to your campaign.

But Sir, the one thing I don’t get is what my family has to do to earn enough of your respect to get a simple question answered in a timely manner? I see you posing with military people all over your Twitter and Facebook, but it appears as if those people don’t benefit you financially or politically, we don’t matter.

You see Sir, 0.4 percent of the American population is active military personnel. Four of our kids served and one died on active duty in Afghanistan. What do you think the percentage of American families fit into our category? You see Sir; all I was asking for was a simple answer to one question- “What are you doing to get those kids back with their families?” Must I write a check to your campaign fund to get your attention? Well, Sir, I think my family has paid enough. But if there is more we need to do, just let me know. Because whatever it takes Sir, to get you to do your job….my family is prepared to make the sacrifice.




Fred John Boenig

Gold Star Dad

Emmaus PA




July 27, 2018

Dear Mr. Boenig,

Thank you for contacting me regarding immigration policy. I appreciate hearing from you.

America has long benefited from immigration and the contributions of those who have come to this country willing to work hard and seek a better life. Nearly every American has some connection to our immigrant history. My own grandparents emigrated here from Ireland.

Like many Americans, I believe that our immigration system is fundamentally broken. Our borders are not secure, and large numbers of individuals regularly cross our borders illegally, including some who are violent criminals. Unfortunately, one of the harmful consequences of our broken immigration system has been a large number of children brought to the U.S. illegally.

In 2014, the Obama administration, in response to a large influx of migrants illegally crossing the U.S. border, expanded its practice of detaining families who unlawfully entered the U.S. while their civil immigration cases were being resolved. This practice kept parents and their children together in detention facilities. However, several court decisions ruled that, in general, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could only detain families together for a short period of time. As a result, many families were released, did not appear in court for their civil immigration cases, and remained in the country illegally.

Like the Obama administration, the Trump administration has sought to address the problem of migrants illegally crossing the U.S. border. Under federal law, it is a crime to illegally enter the U.S. The administration has attempted to refer for federal criminal prosecution all adults who illegally cross our borders (excluding asylum seekers who lawfully arrive at a port of entry). Unfortunately, this policy resulted in the separation of some parents from their children because children cannot be held in federal prison with a parent who awaits criminal prosecution. Under current law, these children were transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which placed them with a relative already in the U.S., if one exists, or with a non-profit shelter.

On June 20, 2018, President Trump, in response to criticism, issued an Executive Order (EO) reversing the practice of separating families who enter the U.S. illegally. Since then, the administration has taken additional steps to reunite families, including establishing an HHS task force on family reunification and setting up a centralized reunification process at a Texas detention center. On June 26, 2018, HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified that hundreds of children had been reunited with their families, and that the department knows the location of all children within its custody.

In addition, that same day a district court in San Diego ordered the administration to reunify all migrant children under age 5 with their families by July 10, and all other migrant children by July 26. With some exceptions due to safety concerns, all eligible children under age 5 were quickly reunited with their families. As of July 26, the Trump administration reported that it had reunified almost sixty percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 with their parents. The remaining children were released to others, such other family members, kept in HHS custody because their parents have been deported, or currently ineligible for reunification. The Trump administration has indicated that it will continue to reunify families who are or become eligible for reunification.

Separating children from parents who entered the country illegally was heartbreaking and President Trump was right to stop the practice. But this problem can only be permanently fixed with a change in law. Congress must stop talking past one another and find a solution that enforces the law and keeps families together while their immigration cases are being resolved. That is why I am a cosponsor of the Protect Kids and Parents Act (S. 3091), which was introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on June 19, 2018. This legislation mandates that migrant families be held together while their cases are being resolved, with limited exceptions to protect children, such as evidence that a child is a victim of human trafficking. The bill also authorizes new family shelters so that children can remain with their parents while their claims are being processed and seeks to speed up processing of asylum claims. 

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on immigration. Please be assured I will continue to closely monitor this situation.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.


Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

































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