SENATE REPUBLICANS SAY THAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION CAN REVERSE FAMILY SEPARATION “IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT LEGISLATION”
HELP Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “The WH could change it five minutes and they should. It’s a mistake,”… “It’s a change in policy by this administration separating especially very small children from their parents at the border is not something we should do.” [CBS, 6/19/18]
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Homeland Security Chairman Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “I think they have latitude to make that decision.“ [CNN, 6/19/18]
Senate Aging Committee Chairman Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME): "The fact is the administration has the authority to fix this immediately without legislation.” [CNN, 6/18/18]
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “It appears to me that much of this can be done with a phone call.” [BuzzFeed, 6/18/18]
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “I just asked Sen. @JeffFlake about Nielsen’s statement that only Congress can address family separations at border. ‘No. That’s not true.’” [MSNBC, 6/19/18]
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call,” … “I'll go tell him: If you don't like families being separated, you can tell DHS, ‘Stop doing it.’” [CNN, 6/15/18]
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “The White House can fix it if they want to,” … “I don’t think there’s any question about that.” [Washington Post, 6/18/18]
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “The administration’s current family separation policy is an affront to the decency of the American people, and contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded. The administration has the power to rescind this policy. It should do so now.” [Twitter, 6/18/18]
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “The time is now for the White House to end the cruel, tragic separations of families. They are not consistent with our values. The thousands of children taken from their parents and families must be reunited as quickly as possible and be treated humanely while immigration proceedings are pending. ?I am troubled that those seeking asylum are being turned away before they even have the opportunity to file their papers. While I have said that this is a policy discussion that needs to be had, in my view we should not have a policy designed to separate families, particularly mothers with young children, without a clear process and focus on the needs of the children. To blame previous administrations for a wrong committed today is not acceptable. The Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security should make the call today. If the administration does not fix this and fast, we in Congress must.” [Press Release, 6/18/18]
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): “The administration should change course immediately and use its executive authority to keep families together and expedite their cases.” [Press Release, 6/19/18]
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD): “Rounds: ‘most certainly’ Trump can make ‘modification.’” [CNN, 6/19/18]
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE): “The administration’s decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice. Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong.” [Facebook, 6/18/18]
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL): “It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents. Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable. We cannot allow for this to continue happening, and it must stop.” [Press Release, 6/18/18]
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): “This is clearly something that the administration can change. They don't need legislation to change it.” [CNN, 6/16/18]
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN): “Tearing families apart should not be our policy and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security should reverse this decision.” [Press Release, 6/15/18]
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): "’Separating families at the border is a cruel policy that needlessly subjects both parents and children to emotional and psychological harm,’ Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. ‘President Trump has chosen to implement this policy and he can put an end to it but he chooses not to do so and instead blames others.’” [Miami Herald, 6/18/18]
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH): “I am writing a letter to understand the current policies and to ask the Administration to stop needlessly separating children from their parents.” [Facebook, 6/18/18]
Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS): “As the son of a social worker, I know the human trauma that comes with children being separated from their parents. It takes a lasting, and sometimes even irreversible toll on the child’s well being. That’s why I’m demanding that Attorney General Sessions halt the practice of family separation at the border immediately as Congress works toward legislative solutions.” [Press Release, 6/18/18]
IN THEIR OWN WORDS – TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SAYS THEIR “NEW POLICY” OF FAMILY SEPARATION IS MEANT AS A “TOUGH DETERRENT” – “OPERATIONALLY WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE WILL HAVE TO SEPARATE YOUR FAMILY.”
HHS Acting Assistant Secretary Steven Wagner: “We expect that the new policy will result in a deterrence effect, we certainly hope that parents stop bringing their kids on this dangerous journey and entering the country illegally. So we are prepared to continue to expand capacity as needed. We hope that that will not be necessary in the future.” [Washington Post, 6/19/18]
HHS Acting Assistant Secretary Steven Wagner: “I don’t know how many of the separated kids have been placed or reunited with parents,” Mr. Wagner said. “This policy is relatively new. We are still working through the experience of reuniting.” [NY Times, 6/19/18]
Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
INGRAHAM: Yes. General Sessions, is this policy in part used as a deterrent? Are you trying to deter people from bringing children or minors across this dangerous journey? Is that part of what the separation is about?
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly:
QUESTION: Are you in favor of this new move announced by the attorney general early this week that if you cross the border illegally even if you're a mother with your children [we're going] to arrest you? We're going to prosecute you, we're going to send your kids to a juvenile shelter?
KELLY: The name of the game to a large degree. Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they're also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They're overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don't speak English, obviously that's a big thing. They don't speak English. They don't integrate well, they don't have skills. They're not bad people. They're coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.
QUESTION: Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.
KELLY: It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.
QUESTION: Even though people say that's cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?
KELLY: I wouldn't put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long. [NPR, 5/11/18]
Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
HEWITT: Let me begin. Is it absolutely necessary, General, to separate parents from children when they are detained or apprehended at the border?
SESSIONS: Yes. [Hugh Hewitt, 6/5/18]
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen:
QUESTION: I want to ask about zero tolerance and family separation which was much in the news earlier this week. Just, first some clarifications. Will families be separated, who cross the border illegally, or may families be separated if they cross the border illegally?
NIELSEN: First of all, the law says if you cross between the ports of entry, you are entering without inspection and that is a crime. First time is a misdemeanor. After that it's a felony. And then it goes on from there. So that hasn't changed, that's the underlying law. Our policy has not changed in that if you break the law, we will refer you for prosecution. What that means, however, is if you are single adult, if you are part of a family, if you are pregnant, if you have any other condition, you're an adult and you break the law, we will refer you. Operationally what that means is we will have to separate your family. [NPR, 5/10/18]
Senior Adviser to the President Stephen Miller: “No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement,” … “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period. The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law.” [New York Times, 6/16/18]
Department of Justice Media Affairs Coordinator Devin O’Malley:
KELLY: I'm trying to square when you say this is - the law requires you to do a certain thing. The law hasn't changed, and yet these are new rules that have been put into effect so recently that you say it's too soon to tell whether they will be effective or not.
O'MALLEY: Well, the zero tolerance policy across all of the U.S. attorneys districts in the United States is a new policy. It's a new policy as of April 6, 2018. There were variations of zero tolerance that were implemented in the prior administration in certain sectors along the border. But this was not a policy that they implemented across the southwest border, if that helps clarify.
KELLY: So you're arguing there's no discretion. The law demands you to separate families in this way.
O'MALLEY: Congress made it illegal for a person to enter the United States between a port of entry, and the Department of Justice, through their zero tolerance policy, is prosecuting a hundred percent of those cases to the extent practical. When that happens, when there is a family unit, when the adult is charged with criminal illegal entry, the United States Marshals are not authorized by Congress to place that child in a criminal detention facility with their families, so it does require of the federal government to place the child in the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. [NPR, 6/5/18]
CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello:
VELA: So with this new policy in place, at the point that you are in a situation where you decide to separate the families, where do the minors go?
VITIELLO: The decision is to prosecute 100 percent. If that happens to be a family member, then the HHS would then take care of the minor as an unaccompanied child.
VELA: But can you tell us because over the past couple of weeks we have seen reports of families that have been separated but nobody can tell us where those children are going. Do you know where they are going?
VITIELLO: They are referred to Health and Human Services to be placed in a shelter. [House Homeland Security Committee, Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Hearing, 5/25/18]
CBP U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief of Operational Programs, Law Enforcement Directorate Richard M. Hudson: “In accordance with the Department of Justice's zero-tolerance policy, Secretary Nielsen has directed CBP to refer all illegal border crossers for criminal prosecution. Family separation may occur when CBP is unable to determine the custodial relationship, when we determine that a child may be at risk with the custodian, or when the custodian is transferred to a criminal detention setting due to criminal charges. When CBP refers the case against the parent or guardian for criminal prosecution, the parent or guardian will be placed in the custody of U.S. Marshals Service for pretrial detention pursuant to an order by a federal judge. The child will be transferred to the care of HHS, ORR pursuant to the requirements of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.” [Senate Judiciary Committee Border Security and Immigration Subcommittee Hearing, 5/23/18]