The Latest: Texas governor seeks bipartisan border solutions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on immigration legislation (all times local):
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is asking Texas’ congressional delegation to find bipartisan solutions to immigrant children being separated from their parents after illegally crossing the U.S. border, saying, “This disgraceful condition must end.”
In a letter Wednesday to the state’s 36 House members and two senators, Abbott says, “It can only end with action by Congress to reform the broken immigration system.”
Texas Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have proposed fixes, as has Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Abbott added that Texans “are not fooled by the partisan divide on this issue” and that “a bill fixing the problem” will only clear the Senate with Republican and Democratic support.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending the policy separating the children from their parents.
Senate Republicans have introduced legislation aimed at keeping migrant children with parents being held after illegally crossing the U.S. border.
The seven-page measure is the Senate GOP’s response to a bipartisan uproar over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from families caught entering the country illegally. The policy has produced a public relations nightmare for the GOP.
Under the bill, children under age 18 would be kept with their families in residential centers during legal proceedings. Facilities would have to be “secure and safe.” Children would be separated from adults who are not their parent or have serious criminal records, or if there is evidence of abuse or trafficking.
The government would prioritize processing such families, and add 1,000 additional beds and 225 immigration judges.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for an end to the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families, calling the practice “immoral.”
In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Gillibrand cited an Associated Press story detailing the detention of young migrant children in “tender age” shelters.
She says, “We are living through a moment in history when we are literally sending babies and toddlers into detention camps.”
In a rare step, the New York Democrat read the entire AP story and entered it into the congressional record.
The AP reported that the Trump administration has been sending young children forcibly separated from their parents to at least three shelters in South Texas.
Republicans are working on legislation to address the issue. President Donald Trump says he plan to sign an executive action to end the separations.
Wavering GOP lawmakers are poised for a trip to the White House as President Donald Trump seeks to win over their votes on immigration. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is bringing the group to the White House, his office confirmed.
Trump told House Republicans he was fully behind their immigration bills, but some lawmakers indicated they needed more clarity on which bill the president really supported.
GOP leaders are urging passage of a compromise measure negotiated between conservative and moderate Republicans, but lawmakers said Wednesday they were a few votes short. A more conservative measure is expected to fail.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the United States is wrong to separate migrant children from their parents, but has rejected calls to cancel next month’s visit to Britain by President Donald Trump.
May said Wednesday that images of children in cages were “deeply disturbing. This is wrong. This is not something that we agree with.”
Opposition lawmakers rebuked May for not criticizing the Trump administration in stronger terms.
Trump is due to meet May and Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Britain on July 13.
May said Britain and the United States had a “special, long and enduring relationship,” and she had “a range of issues” to discuss with Trump.
She said the close U.K.-U.S. bond meant “when we disagree with what they are doing, we say so.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the U.S. policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border and detaining them is “unacceptable” and “wrong.”
Trudeau said Wednesday this is “not the way we do things in Canada” and says he cannot imagine what the families involved are enduring.
Trudeau is risking the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump who has verbally attacked the Canadian prime minister of late over trade.
Trudeau made the remarks in Parliament when asked about the U.S. policy by journalists.
He has been careful not to criticize U.S. policy in the past.
Speaker Paul Ryan says the House will vote Thursday on GOP immigration bills, but he offered no back-up plan to bring an end to family separations at the border if the measure fails to pass.
“Right now we’re focused on getting this bill passed,” Ryan told reporters.
He says the compromise bill negotiated between Republican conservatives and moderates “is Plan B.”
The speaker said he does not support separating parents from children and wants families detained together.
But passage of the House bill remains in doubt even after President Donald Trump met with lawmakers this week to support an immigration fix. GOP leaders have struggled to rally support from Republicans. And some lawmakers said Trump should give a more full-throated endorsement of the leadership-backed bill.
The head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is invoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks to defend separating families at the U.S. southern border.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan tells Fox News’ “Fox & Friends”: “I see a lot of tweets from New York congressmen. How soon they forget what happened in New York at the hands of people in the country illegally.”
The 9/11 hijackers were in the country legally.
Homan did correctly note that the “vast majority” of children currently in U.S. custody crossed the border without family members. At issue, however, is the spike of children in custody resulting from family separations.
After the administration announced this spring it would prosecute every illegal border crossing, some 2,000 children were separated from their families.
The Senate’s No. 2 Republican says Democrats “like the narrative” of immigrant families being separated at the southern border amid mounting criticism over the forced separation of children from their parents as they seek to enter the country illegally.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn says Democrats risk a backlash if they oppose Republican efforts to address the problem in Congress.
Cornyn told reporters Wednesday that Democrats “are conflicted, because they like the narrative” of blaming President Donald Trump for separating families. But he said Democrats “are going to be challenged to try to fix the problem, and if they don’t appear to be willing to meet us halfway I think their using this for partisan purposes will be exposed.”
Veteran Republican strategist Steve Schmidt is renouncing his membership in the Republican Party, in light of the political tempest over the Trump administration immigration policy that separates children from their parents.
Via Twitter, the senior strategist to 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain says he became a member of a party founded to oppose slavery “and stand for the dignity of human life.”
Schmidt then says: “Today, I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.”
Schmidt, who also advised President George W. Bush and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been a reliable critic of President Donald Trump. He recently said Trump “beclowned himself” with his criticism of U.S. allies during the recent G-7 summit in Canada.
Mexico’s governmental human rights commission says the Trump administration policy of separating families at the border is “appalling and immoral.”
Commission President Luis Gonzalez Perez on Wednesday called the Trump administration cruel and said the policy is hurting children. Gonzalez Perez urged the nations of Central America — whose migrants are disproportionately affected by the policy — to speak out.
Gonzalez Perez also said that Mexico has to live up to the same standard of humane treatment of migrants that it demands from the United States.
President Donald Trump says on Twitter he is “working on something” related to immigration following his Tuesday night meeting with House Republicans.
Trump is again placing blame on Democrats, asserting that “they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation.” The president’s party, the Republicans, control both chambers in Congress.
He writes, “Republicans want security. But I am working on something - it never ends!”
Republican leaders in the House are trying to put together an immigration bill that would keep immigrant children in detention indefinitely, but housed with their parents.
About two dozen immigrant children have joined Democratic lawmakers on the House floor as the lawmakers decry the separation of families at the border.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas says the detaining of children separately from parents who have crossed the border illegally is child abuse. She says “please, please let our children go to their families.”
The criticism follows Democratic lawmakers confronting President Donald Trump when he visited the Capitol the day before, yelling “stop separating our families!”
But Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says he is heartened by the debate because he is seeing Americans “standing up for children, standing up for those who are in need.”
As Gutierrez spoke, his microphone was cut off because lawmakers and children gathered around him as he spoke. That was considered a breach of decorum.
Pope Francis is criticizing the Trump administration’s immigration policy, telling a news reporter earlier this week that he agrees with U.S. Catholic bishops that separating children from their parents at a border is “immoral.”
Continuing his criticism Wednesday, he tweeted: “A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.”
Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has quoted the Bible in defending the policy, which calls for every person who crosses the border illegally to be prosecuted and detained. The result has been more than 2,000 children detained without a guardian and no clear plan on how the families will be reunited.
Pope Francis told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview Sunday that he agrees with recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents “contrary to our Catholic values.” He said “it’s not easy, but populism is not the solution.”
About a dozen protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about the Trump administration’s immigration policy as she ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.
The protesters entered MXDC Cocina Mexicana Tuesday and chanted “Shame!” and “End family separation!”
In a video posted on Facebook by Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, the protesters yelled, “if kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.”
Nielsen paid her bill and left after about 10 or 15 minutes.
A department spokesman tweeted that during a work dinner, the secretary and her staff heard from a small group of protesters who “share her concern with our current immigration laws.”
House Republican leaders searching for a way to tamp down the controversy over family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border are getting little clear direction from President Donald Trump.
Trump visited the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss immigration, and told House Republicans he is behind their rival immigration bills “1,000 percent.” Whether Trump’s support can push any immigration measure through the divided GOP majority remains a question.
Republican lawmakers are increasingly fearful of a voter backlash in November. They met with Trump with hopes of finding a solution that holds to his hard-line immigration policy and ends the practice of taking migrant children from parents charged with entering the country illegally.
As Trump left the session, a half-dozen House Democrats confronted him and yelled, “Stop separating our families!”