Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced emergency legislation Monday to keep immigrant families together after they cross the border into the US. In response to the heartbreaking separation of families under Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, Cruz has called for immigrant children to be kept with their families, as long as the parents are not under criminal investigation.
“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers,” Cruz wrote in a press release on the new legislation. “This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week.”
The provisions of the new legislation, entitled the “Protect Kids and Parents Act,” include doubling the number of federal immigration judges, from roughly 375 to 750 as well as authorizing new temporary shelters with improved accommodations to keep families together.
“Repeatedly, I have visited detention facilities tragically housing young children,” Cruz added, according to the Houston Chronicle. “For far too long, children have been the greatest victims of our broken immigration system, with tens of thousands of children who were detained under the Obama Administration and continuing through today, and with far too many of those children facing horrific physical or sexual assault from criminal human traffickers.”
But Cruz was quick to point out the distinctive nature of his policy proposal in comparison to that of the Democrats.
“The answer is not what congressional Democrats are proposing: simply releasing illegal aliens and returning to the failed policy of ‘catch and release,'” he explained. “Rather, we should fix the backlog in immigration cases, remove the legal barriers to swift processing, and resolve asylum cases on an expedited basis.”
“While these cases are pending, families should stay together. Children belong with their mothers and fathers. Once their cases have been adjudicated – under my legislation, in no longer than 14 days – those who meet the legal standard should be granted asylum and those who don’t should be immediately returned to their home country.”
Cruz urged politicians to bridge the ideological gap and come together on this crucial issue.
“We can fix this,” he said. “If my Democratic colleagues will join me, not play politics but work to solve the problem, we can start to end family separation this week. And, we can honor the rule of law.”
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas’ second-ranking Senate Republican, declared Monday that he too would be introducing legislation along these lines.
“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,” he said, as reported by the Texas Tribune. “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.”