Sen. Chris Coons on CNN New Day discussing family separation rule: "What can be done is very simple."
What can be done is very simple: President Trump can reverse this policy decision that he’s made. He can stop misleading the American people by suggesting that this somehow is the responsibility of Democrats or it’s required by law.
Neither of those are true.
A dozen Republican Senators have now said that President Trump can change this policy today. Mr. President, if you’re watching: You can change this today. It doesn’t require legislation. You are not compelled to do this by law. Faith leaders across every major faith have been denouncing this, most recently Pope Francis. This is inhumane and cruel to use children as pawns in our long-running disagreements about how to secure our borders and fix our broken immigration system.
More on immigration reform:
Well, given the mess at the Republican Caucus meeting over on the House side last night with President Trump, given my own experience with trying to craft bipartisan legislation earlier this year, I’ll remind you that one of our biggest challenges is that President Trump and his real position, what legislation he’d be willing to sign or support, is a constantly moving point.
As a candidate, from literally the day he entered the race for president, he has been the hardest of hardliners on immigration, describing folks who come to our country from Mexico in the most unflattering and negative terms possible. So, it’s pretty hard to know what we could possibly do to either address the problem he created by reversing the policy allowing DREAMers to stay in this country or with this new heartless and cruel new policy towards children. It’s hard to know what we can do when he’s a moving point.
More on what we can do:
First, I believe that to be a mischaracterization of all the elements of that bill. And the Gang of Eight bill I think you’re referring to is the one from 2013 that passed the Senate while I was here. They are talking about a significantly different package that is far more to the right, is closer to the package that only got 39 votes here in the Senate.
It was the one championed by Secretary Nielson of Homeland Security and President Trump. You may recall we had four different bills on the floor of the Senate for a vote. I was the co-sponsor of one of them with Senator McCain of Arizona. I worked hard with a bipartisan group led by Senator Susan Collins of Maine. That one got 54 votes.
The only one that got 60 votes was the president’s. It got 60 “No” votes. And that was the farthest right. It did a whole series of changes to our immigration policy.
Here’s what I resent, Alisyn: this change in policy announced by this administration is being used to create a crisis and is being used for the president to try and get his border wall and some very far rightward moves in our immigration policy. I think it’s inhumane to use children as bargaining chips.
More on legislation:
The bill that I co-sponsored … in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for 1.4 million DREAMers, provided $25 billion in funding for border security, including a wall system. That was taken up and voted on the floor of the Senate. And we thought it was going to pass until that day, when President Trump and Secretary Nielson began aggressively, personally lobbying against it, and peeled off several of our Republican likely supporters. That’s what I’m speaking about.
We thought we had a deal that would get administration support until it got to the floor. And frankly, it is hard to keep negotiating with folks who keep moving the goal posts farther and farther right and engaging in practices that are taking America and dragging us through the mud worldwide and destroying our reputation as a humane country in order to accomplish these goals.
So, I have continued, after that debacle on the floor, now several months ago, I have continued to meet with and attempt to negotiate with Republican colleagues. You know me. I’m someone who works tirelessly across the aisle, who tries to move bipartisan legislation. I’ve continued conversations about how we could make progress on addressing hundreds of thousands of folks under temporary protected status, for example, who are facing deportation. How to resolve the DREAMer issue, how to resolve some of these larger issues.
But this newly created crisis, by changing the policy on separating families who cross our border - it is really hard to swallow the idea that somehow this is my responsibility, Democrats responsibility to come even farther President Trump’s way because of the cruel way children are being treated.
The solutions being put forward by Republican senators this week would instead incarcerate, in pretrial detention, whole families in facilities that are not yet built, with immigration judges that will take months if not years to fully hire, and in pursuit of a shortened asylum process, just two weeks, that as someone who handled a few asylum cases as a lawyer in private practice, I will tell you, it’s exceptionally hard to put on a successful, competent asylum case in just two weeks.
The basic outlines of what Republicans are proposing would result in mass incarceration of children in pretrial detention, something that has not been embraced by either party in a long time.