IndieDems has roundly criticized Republicans for creating out of whole cloth a crisis involving the kidnapping of thousands of immigrant children ,imprisoning them in wire cages, and moving many of them around the country in the dead of night, with no mechanism in place to reunite them with their parents.
This inhumane, un-American, and un-Christian action was loudly condemned, forcing President to sign an executive order that technically put an an to further separations. But thousands remain in custody, and confusion and chaos blocks speedy resolution.
We publish below Senator Johnny Isakson’s reply to our criticism of his role.
Thank you for contacting me regarding immigration and children. I appreciate hearing from you and am grateful for the opportunity to respond.
Our country is a nation of immigrants, and it is my belief that those who seek to come to this country through lawful channels to share in the pursuit of the American dream should be welcomed. However, I have always drawn a clear distinction between legal and illegal immigration. Illegal immigration places a great strain on our institutions and in turn burdens the American taxpayer. For this reason, I believe immigration reform is one of the most significant domestic issues facing our nation today.
On May 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would prosecute every person who illegally crosses into the United States along the Southwest border. As a result, when adults with children illegally enter the United States, authorities would detain the adult pending a hearing on their immigration status. Meanwhile, the child would be placed into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which coordinates and implements the care and placement of the children as appropriate. This distinction is due in part to a court order that prohibits minors from being detained for more than 20 days in immigration cases, meaning that in most cases children cannot stay with their parents if the parents are being held pending an asylum hearing. Earlier this year, I supported an immigration proposal offered by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would have overturned this court order, in addition to providing funding for border security and a path to citizenship for those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
While I firmly stand behind enforcing our laws and protecting our borders, I believe Congress and the administration should work to keep families together whenever possible. I am also a cosponsor of S.3093 (Senate Bill 3093), the Keeping Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, introduced on June 20, 2018 by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). (IndieDems note: the bill is co-sponsored by 6 Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren). This bill would end separation of families at the border, allow families to be processed together, and require fair and humane treatment while awaiting immigration processing. Additionally, the legislation provides additional funding for family residential centers, sets mandatory standards for care, and authorizes 225 new immigration judges to expedite proceedings for children and families who are apprehended at the border.
Following the introduction of S.3093, President Trump issued an executive order to end the separation of families in the course of enforcing immigration laws. However, legislation is still needed to address the 20-day limit on keeping families together. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to secure our borders and advocate for immigration policies that strengthen our nation and benefit the people of Georgia.
Thank you again for contacting me. If I can be of any assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to call upon me.