U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) took action today to stop the separation of children and parents at the border by co-sponsoring the Protect Kids and Parents Act with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“The separation of children and parents at the border is the sad result of problematic loopholes in existing immigration law. It must be stopped immediately through reforms that permanently address the root cause of the crisis. I’m pleased this legislation will end the unnecessary family separation that’s been occurring.
“I’ve visited the U.S.-Mexico border on many occasions and I have no doubt that we need to strengthen our border security and fix the loopholes that have allowed too many illegal aliens to remain in the United States. However, we can accomplish that without the traumatic process of separating families from their children. I look forward to the Senate considering this legislation as swiftly as possible.”
While the legislation is being considered before Congress, Inhofe also pressed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to use their existing authorities to prevent the separation of children and parents at the border.
The letter reads in part: “I ask each of you and your agencies to use your existing authorities to find a way to provide for the detention of families as a unit and to expedite the processing of their cases to ensure their proceedings are adjudicated as quickly as possible before having to be separated according to current law.”
Full letter below and available here.
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20016
The Honorable Alex M. Azar II
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Attorney General Sessions, Secretary Nielsen and Secretary Azar:
It is with growing concern that I read and see news reports of children being separated from their parents after they have illegally crossed our border. I appreciate your efforts to secure our borders and hold those accountable who break our laws, but it is not without a heavy heart when mothers and fathers are separated from their young kids.
As agency heads, you are entrusted with the enforcement of our laws and court decisions. In the past, it was not contemplated that we would be faced with the thousands of families showing up at our borders that we are seeing now. Thus, we have the unintended consequence of families being separated when our immigration laws are finally being enforced after a long period of leniency. Human smugglers and traffickers have taken advantage of that leniency resulting in the current crisis.
Despite all of this, I do not believe the answer is to create more pain for families that have already endured a long and dangerous journey to our border. I ask each of you and your agencies to use your existing authorities to find a way to provide for the detention of families as a unit and to expedite the processing of their cases to ensure their proceedings are adjudicated as quickly as possible before having to be separated according to current law.
In the meantime, I will be working with my colleagues to find a permanent solution to this crisis and ask for your agencies to work with Congress as we consider legislation addressing this issue.