A group of 13 Republican senators are calling on President Donald Trump to halt family separations at the border.
The letter calls the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy — which is responsible for separating children from their parents at the border — “inhumane,” and urges the president to put a halt to it while they come up with new legislation.
“Although enforcing our immigration laws is an essential responsibility of the federal government, it must be done in a way that is consistent with our values and ordinary human decency,” the senators wrote.
Signed by a number by high-profile Republican senators, including Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, John McCain of Arizona, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine, the letter is the latest sign that Trump’s controversial policy is straining his own party.
Yet despite the growing number of Republicans criticizing their boss’s policy, Republicans haven’t found common ground with Democrats on the issue. No Republicans have signed on to the Democratic proposal, the Keep Families Together Act, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
The letter is also notable for what it acknowledges as fact: The senators’ letter calls out the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy as directly responsible for the family separations currently taking place at the border. But it also adopts some of Trump’s talking points, blaming the larger crisis on “contributing factors,” like court decisions and legal loopholes.
The senators’ call for action comes as Trump has held a hardline against his critics, insisting the power is with Congress to end the separations on the border.
"What I'm asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year, the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit," Trump told lawmakers on Tuesday. "We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis."
Trump, of course, has the power to end the policy of separating children from their parents on his own.
What Republicans in Congress will ultimately propose remains to be seen. The Senate is rallying behind a proposal from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, which would end the controversial policy but expedite deportation, a feature that has drawn criticism as it would rush often lengthy asylum proceedings. Alternatively, the legislation currently being discussed in the House, according to the Associated Press, may involve holding children in detention for longer periods — but with their parents.
Cover image: President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, to rally Republicans around a GOP immigration bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)