WESLACO - After visiting two immigrant detention facilities on Friday, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) admit that the scene inside these centers is “heartbreaking,” giving them more reason to stand by the new legislation recently signed by President Donald Trump.
Although they claim staff is taking good care of the children, having witnessed a 16-year-old mother with her 8-week-old child was enough for the two senators to realize that the need for a policy stopping the separation of families is desperate. Thus, introducing the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, an executive order meant to keep minor children with their parents while they await prosecution.
“In the past week, we’ve seen this country come behind a very simple proposition that should bring us together, which is that kids need to be with their parents.” Cruz told reporters. “It is a bad thing to separate children from their moms and dads. That should bring Democrats, Republicans, everyone together.”
In a 90 minute roundtable discussion, Cruz and Cornyn met with federal immigration officers, local elected officials, and other organizations involved with helping immigrant families to further discuss the new policy, which now includes more than 220 immigration judges to fasten court proceedings. It also includes a new set of mandates that allow family separation - if and only if the parent poses any threat to the child, such physical or sexual abuse. Families are to be held in a facility that promises medical attention and ensures safety, with constant monitoring and criminal background checks.
While this may sound like a solid solution for the Trump administration, the biggest concern continues to remain on the zero-tolerance policy, which started family separations and is currently still in place. Cruz and Rio Grande Valley Sector of U.S. Border Patrol Chief, Manuel Padilla, made the argument that in order to deal with the influx of immigrants (which started in 2014 with more than 51,000 unaccompanied children) the policy is still needed.
“If you don’t have a zero tolerance program, that means you can tolerate illegal immigration.” Cornyn said. “We need to have that system of zero enforcement in order to deter illegal immigration.”
Even so, with the new order in action, some in the discussion claimed that more needs to be done to reunite those already separated.
“The issue is only you can change it.” said Roger Rocha, president of League of United Latin American Citizens, to Cruz and Cornyn. “The world is watching, and families can’t wait anymore.”