Straus to Trump: ‘Please listen’ to those opposed to family separations

June 19, 2018

AUSTIN — House Speaker Joe Straus lambasted the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separates children from their parents when illegally crossing the border Tuesday, accusing the president of using “these scared, vulnerable children as a negotiating tool.”

In a strongly-worded letter to the president, the San Antonio Republican and businessman urged President Donald Trump to listen to faith leaders and elected officials from both parties and rescind the policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Session that has led to an increase in family separations at the border.

Straus stressed the trauma the children are going through is scientifically proven in studies to lead to poor health outcomes, anxiety, delayed development and mental illness, “worsening the many problems that already plague our immigration system.”

The children’s suffering should not be used to deter illegal immigration, Straus added, insisting the administration work on ways to reform the nation’s immigration system.

MORE: Democrats howl, Republicans become uneasy over family separations at border

Straus is among a growing group of Republicans speaking out, including U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of San Antonio and former First Lady Laura Bush, who have criticized the forced separation of some 2,000 minors from their parents in the past six weeks. The policy has led to housing children in shelters including a tent city and a former Walmart before being entered into the foster care system. The White House has defended the policy, saying it has no choice but to enforce immigration laws and urged Congress to fix the problem.

Andrea Zelinski covers politics for the Houston Chronicle. Read her recent stories here. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Send her tips at andrea.zelinski@chron.com.