- GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced a bill to end separation of families at the US border.
- Two other Republican members of Congress also plan to introduce similar legislation.
- The controversial “zero-tolerance” family separation policy has been criticised by both Democrats and Republicans.
Ted Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, announced Monday that he would be introducing “emergency legislation” to end the Trump administration’s controversial “zero-tolerance” policy of separating families who arrive at the border illegally.
The policy has created chaos at the border and sharply divided the Republican Party. Cruz joins a cadre of other prominent members of the GOP who have similarly denounced the policy.
Cruz’s bill, the Protect Kids and Parents Act, would require that families who either seek asylum or arrive illegally be kept together “absent aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children.” It would authorise new temporary shelters to accommodate families, and vastly expedite the processing time for asylum cases.
The bill would double the number of federal immigration judges from around 375 to 750 in enable to ensure that all asylum cases can be processed and adjudicated within 14 days. Families who meet the requirements for asylum would be allowed to stay in the country and those who do not would be immediately deported, as a family.
In a press statement, Cruz’s office said, “All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week.”
Cruz is not the only Republican member of Congress introducing legislation to end the border separations. John Cornyn, the other senator who represents Texas, announced that he too would introduce similar 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,” Cornyn said Monday on the Senate floor.
In the House of Representatives, Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina and the chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus, is introducing a bill that would end separation of families and make the requirements for asylum more strict. His bill does not include any other provisions to fund the border wall or address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
A bill presented by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the “Keep Families Together Act,” has received the support of every single Senate Democrat but no Republicans.
While the “zero-tolerance” separations policy was initially announced by the Department of Justice, both President Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have put the burden on Congress to end the border separations.
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