(CNSNews.com) – Happy to have found an issue that may hurt President Donald Trump politically, Democrats insist there is no need for legislation to fix the badly broken immigration system that allows tens of thousands of people, adults and children alike, to pour into this country illegally, without vetting.
“There’s no need for legislation, there’s no need for anything else,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a news conference on Tuesday. “You can do it, Mr. President. You started it, you can stop it, plain and simple. So, again, if the president’s ashamed at what’s happening at the border, he can change it.”
Schumer said Trump can “undo this shameful policy immediately…with a flick of the pen.”
“Mr. President, I’ll lend you my pen, any pen,” Schumer said. “You can fix it yourself, so we’re here today to say, Mr. President, you should and you must fix this problem. But if you don’t want to change this cruel policy, at least admit it is your decision.”
A reporter asked Schumer, “Why not just enact a law that stops them from ever from doing this again?”
“Well there are so many obstacles to legislation, and when the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense,” Schumer said. “(House Speaker Paul) Ryan, the president signing it, attaching it to things that are unacceptable. Legislation is not the way to go here when it’s so easy for the president to sign it. It’s an excuse.”
Another reporter asked Schumer if the time might come when “Democrats would be willing to work with the Republicans” on a “narrow” immigration bill:
“Let’s hope we never get to that,” Schumer responded. “Let’s hope the president does the right thing and solves the problem, which he can do. That’s the simple, easiest and most likely way this will happen. How many times has immigration legislation passed in this Congress? How many times? Zero. More here.
*** Now for the Flores Dissent Decree and that pesky 9th Circuit Court.
TWS: During an interview on Friday, Trump stated that a law passed by Democrats was the reason illegal immigrants were being separated from the children they brought across the border.
“The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children,” the president told reporters.
This came after Trump told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in May, “I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough, but those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up families.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley also weighed in on the predicament, citing a need to repeal “the Flores 1997 court decision” in order to stop the separation of families at the border.
I want 2 stop the separation of families at the border by repealing the Flores 1997 court decision requiring separation of families + give DOJ the tools it needs 2 quickly resolve cases
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) June 14, 2018
What’s the truth?
In April, the Trump administration issued a “zero tolerance” policy at the border, a policy responsible for separating some 2,000 children from the adults they crossed over with. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in May that “if you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”
But current law does not mandate family separation at the border — there is simply no federal statute that requires such activity, which is made obvious by the lack of enforcement of this policy prior to April. The Trump administration’s policy was not dictated to it by Congress, past or present, by Republicans or by Democrats. However, current law does not prevent these adults from being separated from the children they brought, either.
Much of the argument comes down to the 1997 Flores settlement to a class-action lawsuit from the 1980s surrounding the “detention and release” of minors taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The settlement demands the release of children to their parents, relatives, etc. without unnecessary delay. If this placement is unavailable — e.g., if the child’s parent is a threat to them or is placed in criminal proceedings, or the supposed parent is only posing as one — the government must put the child in the “least restrictive” accommodations that are appropriate for their needs.
Before the “zero tolerance” policy, illegal immigrants who had crossed the border with children were not often prosecuted but placed in family detention centers (or released) with the order to attend a future court date or await deportation. Now that the adults are being prosecuted and held for their criminal proceedings, the children are subsequently separated and detained in appropriate accommodations outlined by the Flores settlement.
As noted by a fact-check from the New York Times, the Obama administration, during a sharp increase in family migration from South America, utilized family detention centers, which attracted lawsuits claiming “that doing so had breached the Flores settlement by not releasing children swiftly.”
Rich Lowry argues in National Review that if the Flores settlement were reversed there would be no direct need to separate families. “Congress can change the rules so the Flores consent decree will no longer apply,” he notes, “and it can appropriate more money for family shelters at the border.” Current law does not demand that parents be separated from their children but makes prosecuting these adults nigh impossible without separation.
As long as the “zero tolerance” policy set forth from the Trump administration is in operation under current law, adults will be separated from the children they bring while crossing the border, either illegally or to seek asylum. It is incorrect to place the blame on a law passed by Democrats, as it is the “zero tolerance” policy from the current administration that began, through prosecution, separating children and adults who illegally crossed the border together.