Cornyn: Families Should be Kept Together at the Border
by John Cornyn on June 19, 2018 at 11:51 AM
I recently discussed my plan to update and reintroduce my 2014 legislation, the HUMANE Act, to keep parents and children who’ve been apprehended at our border together while they wait for their court hearings. Excerpts of my floor remarks are below, and video can be found here.
Just like under the Obama Administration in 2014, we've seen a surge of unaccompanied children and families coming across our southern border during the spring and summer months.
The Trump Administration has made a decision to enforce all of our laws by prosecuting adults in criminal court when they're apprehended crossing our borders illegally. I support that approach.
Because of numerous federal court decisions, settlements, and statutes, an adult can be separated from a child as part of the legal process as it plays out.
That way, children are placed in a separate, safer setting. I doubt many of us would want a child to go to a jail cell where somebody is being held for illegally entering the country. That's why they are put in a separate, safer setting. They aren't left unattended and fending for themselves amongst potentially violent criminals that are being detained in regular ICE or bureau prison facilities.
As the New York Times stated this weekend, there is no expressed Trump Administration policy stating that illegal border crossers must be separated from their children.
This is as a result of other consent decrees and laws which are within the power of Congress to change. In fact, I think every member of this Chamber will agree that we should never be placing children in prison cells or jails with hardened criminals when their parents are being prosecuted.
We have to keep family members together and prevent unnecessary hardship, stress, and outrage. The good news is we have it within our power to find a better way because parents who are awaiting court proceedings shouldn't have to do so separated from their children, and children shouldn't be taken from their parents and left frightened and confused about where they are and what is transpiring around them.
In 2014, I introduced a bipartisan bill called the HUMANE Act with my colleague, Representative Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Texas. I plan to soon reintroduce an updated version of that legislation. It will include provisions that mitigate the problem of family separation while improving the immigration court process for unaccompanied children and families apprehended at the border. To the greatest extent possible, families presenting at ports of entry or apprehended crossing the border illegally will be kept together while waiting for their court hearings, which will be expedited.
I would ask our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take a hard look at this bill and to work together to find a reasonable solution for this component of the crisis at our border.