During a CNN interview on Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) acknowledged profound confusion about President Trump’s recent immigration policy moves — admitting it was “news to me” that the executive order Trump signed won’t actually reunite more than 2,300 kids with their families after they were separated from their parents as a result of Trump administration policy.
Trump signed an order on Wednesday ending the family separation crisis that he created in the first place, following a national outcry about the cruelty of family separation. Thanks to the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute all border crossers, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced in April, thousands of immigrant children — some just a few months old — have been separated from their parents at the southern border over the past few months.
During his Thursday appearance on CNN, Jordan said he thought “everyone’s assumption when the president signed the executive order yesterday” was that these children, some of whom were flown several states away from their parents, would now be reunited with their families.
But Trump’s executive order does not actually detail any steps the government will take to reunite kids with their parents — a reality that has been openly acknowledged by administration officials.
NBC News: An HHS spokesperson says the agency has received no new orders on how to handle the roughly 2300 children in their care who are currently detained and separated from their parents. @JuliaEAinsley
— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) June 20, 2018
Jordan was surprised when he was informed of the reality. “This is news to me, so let’s figure that out, let’s reunite those families,” Jordan said, before pivoting to explaining why he thinks Congress needs to pass legislation that fully funds Trump’s border wall.
“You said it’s ‘news to me’ that the administration doesn’t have a plan to reunited these 2,300 kids with their parents,” host John Berman pressed further, as Jordan tried to cut him off.
“The president signed an executive order yesterday!” Jordan insisted.
“That is not about the reunification — that is about what to do going forward,” Berman said. “I just want to be clear — you want the administration to reunite these 2,300 children with their parents immediately?”
Jordan was incredulous about the fact that Trump’s EO doesn’t resolve the problem.
“He signed an executive order yesterday — what else do you want?” Jordan said. “So you really think he signs an executive order saying ‘we’re not going to separate kids, we’re going to keep them together throughout the adjudication process, throughout the whole process where we’re determining whether they legitimately need to receive aslym or not — we’re going to keep them together the whole time, but the ones that are were separated, we’re not going to bring them together.’ You really think that’s the case?”
“It’s not what I think, it’s what we were told!” Berman replied.
On Wednesday, The New York Times provided more details about how the new executive order affects the children who have already been separated from their families:
[T]he president’s order does nothing to address the plight of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s “zero tolerance” policy. Federal officials initially said those children would not be immediately reunited with their families while the adults remain in federal custody during their immigration proceedings.
“There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases,” said Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Wolfe said the decision about the children was made by the White House.
Later Wednesday, Brian Marriott, the senior director of communications for the Administration for Children and Families, told the Times that Wolfe “misspoke” and that “reunification is always the goal.”
But Marriott also left open the possibility that separated kids will never see their parents again.
“We are awaiting further guidance,” he said.
Jordan isn’t the only House Republican engaged in wishful thinking about Trump’s immigration order. Later Thursday morning, Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) went on CNN and falsely claimed that the order contains “huge paperwork that identifies where kids are going so kids can get matched up again.”
On CNN, @RepDaveBrat spreads misinfo about Trump's immigration EO, says "there's huge paperwork that identifies where kids are going so kids can get matched up again."@PoppyHarlowCNN points out to him that that's false. HHS has received no guidance about reunification at all! pic.twitter.com/q6GMqsVz5V
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 21, 2018
Host Poppy Harlow corrected Brat, saying, “No. No, congressman. HHS came out last night and said, ‘we’re still figuring this out.'”