Cornyn has sober take on immigration, family separation

DCNFRobert Donachie, DCNF

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Monday that America should be focusing on keeping families together at the border who illegally immigrated to the U.S., but more efforts should be directed at “addressing” the “root caucuses and consequences” of the nation’s immigration problems.

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“Conditions in some places so bad – and prospects in America so much better – that 83% of parents pay criminial cartels to deliver their children – alone – to our door step. Family unity at border remains a priority but should’t we be addressing root causes and consequences too?” Cornyn, a Texan, tweeted Monday morning.

Cornyn also cited a Department of Homeland Security press release from June 23 that reports some “17% of minors in HHS funded facilities were placed there as a result of Zero Tolerance enforcement, and the remaining 83% percent arrived to the United States without a parent or guardian.”

President Donald Trump and the White House spent last week getting lambasted for its decision to enforce the “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The policy was to separate children from their parents (or from the adult who brought them) who illegally immigrated to the U.S.

Last week began with a series of contentious debates surrounding the Trump administration’s enforcement of the “zero tolerance” policy.

The Trump administration announced early last week that it would continue to separate children from their parents who immigrated to the U.S. illegally, following a practice that was in place well before the president took office.

Under former President Barack Obama, immigrant children were put into separate holding facilities from their parents. The parents would then receive a court order to appear before a judge at a later date, but, without a real incentive to show up for the hearing, many parents fled with their children into other parts of the U.S. The Trump administration said they were enforcing the policy as a deterrent mechanism for those who are considering bringing their families across the border illegally.

The administration has made it a point to prosecute adults who illegally immigrate, but, due to a 9th Circuit ruling, the government cannot hold an immigrant family for more than 20 days. During that time, the government either has to separate a child from their parents while they are put under legal proceedings, or give the parents a later court date and hope they appear before an immigration judge at that time.

Still, the administration’s announcement, along with widespread media coverage of children being forcibly removed from their parents, caused a great deal of outcry from the public.

The president, who wanted Congress to act quickly to solve the issue, responded Wednesday to calls for him to address the separation policy. Trump signed an executive order to start detaining families who immigrated illegally together while they undergo prosecution.

House lawmakers are working on a narrow bill that would allow immigrant children to remain in custody with their parents for more than 20 days. Senate lawmakers are also considering legislation to deal with the issue, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week would need to a be a tailored, “narrow” proposal.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, along with GOP Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Kennedy of Louisiana, put forth a proposal on June 18 that would create new immigration judges, new facilities to keep families together while they are being held, and an expedited pathway for those who immigrate illegally to see a judge and legally apply for asylum. If they are not granted asylum within a 14-day period after their hearing, the immigrant will be deported back to their home country.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California also has a bill that ends the family separation policy, but does not give the government greater resources to detain and adjudicate immigration cases. All Democratic and Independent senators support Feinstein’s proposal.

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