Mississippi’s Leaders in Washington, D.C. Speak on Immigration, Children
By Courtney Warren
With the idea of making national news local, The Bolivar Commercial recently conducted polls on Facebook asking about the latest issues involving immigrants and children.
The questions asked: “Were do you believe there is a federal law requiring children be removed from immigrants illegally crossing American borders?” Eighty-nine percent of voter said no; “If you believe there is a federal law to separate children from parents who illegally cross US borders, do you believe it was enacted by ...” Fifty-eight percent voting democrats and 42 percent voting republicans;
“Are you for or against the US separating children from parents who illegally cross American borders? Seventy-five percent voting against and 25 percent voting for; “Who do you believe initiated the enforcement of the policy?” Fifty-on percent voted the current present and administration and 49 percent voting the past president and administration.
The purpose of these polls was to see what the current general knowledge was of these policies. The Bolivar Commercial conducted several interviews in an attempt to unravel the mystery.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D), who is a ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security, said, "Speaker (Paul) Ryan’s immigration bill is nothing more than a cruel political exercise to rally the right and enshrine President Trump’s terrible and heartless anti-family immigration policies into law. This extreme bill does little to address crises of the President’s own creation — separating families and terminating the DACA program. Further, it significantly restricts legal immigration, the hallmark of our democracy.
"Fixing our broken immigration system should – and could – be a bipartisan process that the American people support. Democrats won’t support this bill and we will act to stop it. The President has said he would veto it, so why is the Speaker wasting time on a bill that is dead on arrival?
“This bill fails the nearly two million Dreamers and provides them no permanent solution. By tying a Dreamer fix to border wall funding, this bill would allow the Republicans and President Trump to hold hostage in perpetuity those that know this country as their only home," said Thompson.
"Even if Dreamers manage permanent residence with this new process, it could take them more than two decades. This is not a fix or even a temporary band aid, it is a false promise to give cover to some Republican moderates who rightly expect to face the wrath of voters in November," he said. “Any notion that this bill ends family separation is a bold-faced lie. The Trump Administration is brutally separating families at the border because they choose to as a deterrent.
"This bill does not stop this inhumane, un-American, anti-family practice. Coming from the party that has preached family values for decades, this should be appalling to all," said Thompson.
He added Democrats are willing to work with Republicans on real solutions the American people support but "only if they act in good faith. We will not allow immigrant families and children to serve as bargaining chips. We will not allow this bill serve as a Trojan horse for the President’s extreme anti-immigrant policies.”
"This bill should be tossed in the trash and we must start over," he said. In regards to Secretary Nielsen’s press briefing and attempt to defend the administration’s child separation policy Thompson said, “Secretary Nielsen’s attempt to do the White House’s bidding and defend President Trump’s horrific child separation policy was just the usual spectacle of lies, misstatements, and outright propaganda that we see from this Administration on a daily basis.”
"Secretary (Kirstjen) Nielsen must be aware that she now owns the implementation of child separation and is fully complicit. Any notion that Congress can come together and reform our immigration system and fix every issue overnight is laughable with the current GOP Leadership — and the Administration knows this.”
Thompson stressed the situation is not about congress or democrats and said, "There is nothing on earth preventing the Administration from canceling this policy and keep these families together. To be clear: they do not want to help these families. We will not play politics while they hold children hostage as leverage to get their draconian immigration agenda through Congress. That is their only strategy and the American people, we now know, are firmly against it."
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) said, "The Trump administration has made no secret of its intention to secure our borders, and I support that goal. The implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and the separation of children from their parents is distressing to me as a mother, but we cannot lose sight that U.S. immigration laws must be enforced. This detention issue highlights that fact that both Democrats and Republicans need to get serious about properly securing our borders so that we can avoid these types of situations.”
Sen. Roger Wicker (R) said, “It is heartbreaking whenever children are separated from their families. This sad situation is a result of a border that is not secure and policies that have encouraged people to break our immigration laws. We need to enforce our borders and our laws while ensuring that everyone in U.S. custody is always treated fairly and humanely. I hope we can find a solution to this problem soon. There must be a better solution than a simple choice between ‘catch and release’ and separating children from their parents.”
The U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions previously said the justification for the separation of families could be found in the Bible, however when pressed by reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, "I'm not aware of the attorney general's comments or what he'd be referencing, I can say it is very biblical to enforce the law and it's said several times in the bible…I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences I guess. The separation of illegal families is the product of the same legal loopholes that the democrats refuse to close and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade and the president is simply enforcing them."
After many calls from Bolivar Commercial reporters, Wicker released today, he is a cosponsor of the “Protect Kids and Parents Act.”
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would mandate that illegal immigrant families be kept together while seeking asylum in the United States. The bill would also provide expedited processing so that families who meet the legal criteria could stay and those who do not will be returned to their home countries within 14 days.
“President Trump has called on Congress to change immigration laws to prevent children of illegal immigrants from being separated from their parents,” Wicker said. “This practice is so painful because we cannot imagine being separated from our own children. The legislation I cosponsored would keep families together and help remove the backlog of pending asylum cases, which are overwhelming our judicial system and keeping too many claims in limbo. These reforms are needed so that we can move beyond this issue and focus on the many other challenges facing our immigration system, including the need for strong border security.”
The “Protect Kids and Parents Act” would require families of illegal immigrants to be kept together except in specific circumstances, including the threat of harm or abuse to the child, or evidence that the child is a victim of human trafficking. The legislation would provide expedited processing and review of the cases of undocumented individuals with children within 14 days.
The bill would double the number of federal immigration judges to 750. These new judges would prioritize processing claims of individuals with children. The bill would also authorize new family shelters so that children could remain with their parents while their claims are being processed.