In a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that all Republican senators supporting keeping families together at the border. From April 19 through May 31, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents as the Trump administration pursued a new “zero tolerance” policy, criminally prosecuting all cases of immigrants crossing the border without documentation.
NEWS: McConnell says he and all GOP senators support keeping families together at the border & GOP will reach out to Dems about creating a new law. pic.twitter.com/GLEUdAu8Cr
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) June 19, 2018
There are a number of problems, however, with McConnell’s assertion and claim that the Republican caucus is united in forcing an end to family seperation at the border.
Zero Republicans support existing legislation to end family separation
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the “Keep Families Together Act” on June 7. The bill would prohibit children from being separated from their parents in most circumstances.
Feinstein’s legislation has the support of all 49 members of the Democratic caucus and zero Republican senators.
Republicans have not introduced any legislation to end family separation
McConnell says the entire Republican caucus supports ending family separation but no member of the Republican caucus has introduced legislation to end the policy. Their support, in other words, is purely theoretical. They have not embraced any specific approach to do so.
Days ago, Republicans senators were defending family separation
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), just a week ago, was defending the policy of family seperation as a necessary deterrent.
“When you see Democrats saying don’t separate kids from their parents, what they’re really saying is don’t arrest illegal aliens,” Cruz said on June 12. Cruz now says he opposes family separation and will propose his own legislation to stop it. But he has not yet introduced the legislative text.
Meanwhile, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) blasted Democratic efforts to end family separation, calling it the “Child Trafficking Encouragement Act.”
Dems' Keep Families Together Act is better called the Child Trafficking Encouragement Act. Show up at border with a minor & call him your child, then you get released into the US! Children will be abducted & sold to drug cartels & slave-traders as a free ticket into US.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 19, 2018
Cotton appears unfamiliar with the text of Feinstein’s bill, which contains several provisions designed to address any potential child trafficking.
McConnell continues to mislead the public about the cause of family separation
Families are not being separated at the border because of a law. They are being separated because the Trump administration introduced a new policy to criminally prosecute every illegal entry.
At Tuesday’s press conference, McConnell repeated that lie that the problem “requires a legislative solution.”
The Republican solution appears to be to keep kids in jail
The Republicans appear to be coalescing around a “solution” to simply keep children, who are guilty of no crime, in adult prisons.
“All we need to do, Hugh, is overturn the so-called Flores Settlement, allow families to be held at the border, provide a little bit of extra money to the military and DHS for family housing units while those claims are adjudicated. We’re going to offer an amendment this week on the spending bill. It can be done promptly,” Cotton said on the Hugh Hewitt show on Tuesday morning.
The Flores Settlement is a consent decree reached following “a class action lawsuit on behalf of immigrant children who had been detained.” Among other things it requires the government “to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to, in order of preference, parents, other adult relatives, or licensed programs willing to accept custody.”
The ruling, however, does not require those kids’ parents to be criminally prosecuted or families to be separated simply upon crossing the border. Republicans appear poised to “help” kids by removing these protections and throwing them in jail.