Jun 19, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Go deeper: The government pushback on family separation

President Trump.

Photo: Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images

In the last several days, pressure has mounted at increasing rates on the Trump administration to change its hotly-contested policy of separating children from their parents apprehended at the border.

The big picture: Trump and administration officials have repeatedly refused to accept responsibility for what has quickly become a symbol of his crackdown on illegal immigration, blaming Democrats and Congress instead. But change is being demanded across party lines, from state and federal legislators who are using their power to reverse the widely condemned policy.

The letters

  • 12 Republican senators, led by Orrin Hatch (Utah), sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, stating that they "cannot support implementations of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents." They also asked Sessions to work with the administration to stop the separation of families while Congress works out a solution that “enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally.”
  • Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) wrote a letter to Gene Dodaro, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and Comptroller General of the U.S., asking for a ruling on whether the separation policy is subject to the Congressional Review Act. If it is, Markey says Senate Democrats can "force a vote to end this policy ... and pass it with a simple majority."

The legislation

  • Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) is introducing legislation this week, called the "Protect Kids and Parents Act," which would forbid the separation of families unless there's aggravated criminal activity or potential harm for the child.
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) has introduced bill, titled the "Keep Families Together Act" that has the support of every single Senate Democrat. The bill would outlaw the separation of children from their families except for in very specific cases, including instances of suspected trafficking or family abuse.
  • Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that aims to keep families together, per The Hill, but would also make it harder to seek asylum in the U.S.

State-level retaliation

  • Multiple governors — at least three Republicans and five Democrats — have said that they won't send, or will recall, state resources and their National Guards to the border.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that the state intends to sue the Trump administration "for violating the Constitutional rights of immigrant children and their families."

Be smart: West Wing sources told Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan that Trump has shown little indication that he'll climb down from the zero-tolerance border policy.

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