Schumer Floor Remarks On The Humanitarian Crisis Caused By The Trump Administration’s Effort To Separate Families

June 20, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Trump administration’s effort to separate families. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Mr. President, as the purposeful, cynical, and shameful humanitarian crisis of family separation at the border continues to unfold, the vast majority of Americans are looking to President Trump’s administration, which started this practice, to end it.

The Associated Press recently reported that the Trump administration has been sending babies and young children to what they call “tender age facilities.” It is unconscionable, unconscionable, that the government of the United States is warehousing babies and toddlers, alone, in an institutional setting.

This crisis was willfully and purposefully created by this president through his zero-tolerance policy at the border.  It can - and should - be ended by the same mechanism. With the simple flick of the pen, a simple flick of the pen, the president can end this policy. If the president wants to borrow my pen, he can have it. But he can do it quickly and easily if he wants to. It’s on his back.

The administration must end this gratuitous, cruel, and counterproductive policy that has brought such pain to innocent children and so much shame on this nation.

No law requires the separation of children from their families. No law says you must send babies to detention facilities. And no law is required to end it. Nineteen Republicans here in the Senate have already called on the Trump administration to reverse or suspend this policy administratively, without any Congressional action. If our Republican colleagues, and the Republican leadership in particular, want to solve this problem, they ought to be directing their attention to the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House because that’s where it can get done, done well, and done quickly.

Now, this is at the administration’s doorstep, to stop or sustain. This is President Trump’s responsibility. He could fix it this morning – if he actually wanted to fix it. Instead, he points fingers of blame, he prevaricates, he makes things up, because he doesn’t want to own this policy. He knows how unpopular it is with the American people but at the same time he sort of wants to tell his base, “I’m with you, I’m with you.” It’s awful.

Now, there’s this idea that Congress could step in and pass legislation on family separation. That is highly, highly dubious and unlikely.  When has this Congress ever successfully passed immigration legislation in the last few years? Never. It’s an illusion. Color us dubious that Congress, the House and Senate, with Republican majorities and strong right-wing elements that hate any change in immigration, could successfully pass legislation.

Here are the problems:

First, would Speaker Ryan agree to pass and put on the floor a narrow bill that just deals with this issue? Has he ever done that before? Never. Never. So even if the Senate passed something it would be dragged in the House into a morass.

Second, would the president sign something? It was reported in the newspaper that Sarah Huckabee Sanders said [President Trump] would not sign the bill that Senator Cruz is talking about. So what’s the point? We want to solve this problem.

And third, will both Republican leaders, House and Senate, guarantee that a narrow bill will not have riders, poison pill riders that are unacceptable to large percentages of this body, not be added to any legislation? Let’s get those guarantees. No poison pill riders. Senate leadership, House leadership agree, and Speaker Ryan has the votes to pass something over there before we move on a legislative path when there’s such an easy other path available – which is the president taking his pen and undoing what he has done.

So the bottom line, my colleagues, is there’s only one real solution, much is we would dream for another. And that is the president to solve this problem because the odds of any legislation being able to pass without poison pill riders, House, Senate, and be signed by the president is just about zero. When the percentage that the president could solve this problem if he wants to is just about one hundred percent.

And one other thing I have to say it. Ted Cruz, a leading anti-immigration advocate, must be feeling the heat. He’s never been for modifying our immigration laws in any way that helps immigrants. Read some of his past statements. I ask a question. Is something cynical going on with some people? They want to get this off their back because they feel the heat but they really don’t want to solve the problem because if they did, Senator Cruz and the others would do what nineteen Republicans have correctly done, ask the president to solve the problem himself.

###