Afternoon update: President Trump signed an executive order today that he said would solve the problem by allowing parents and children to be detained together. U.S. Rep. John Faso said he was “pleased the President reversed his decision on enforcing the law in this manner” and said the next step, after reuniting children with their parents, is to continue to pursue immigration reform. Read our latest.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday that over 70 migrant kids are being held in New York State after being separated from their families, with one child being housed at a facility in Kingston.
The sharp increase in family separation is the result of the Trump administration taking a zero-tolerance approach to border security enforcement. As heart-wrenching images of distraught children in fenced-in holding areas have emerged in the last few weeks, Congress has moved to consider various legislative solutions that change existing law to keep families together when the parents are arrested.
In a statement, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston) called on Congress to address the situation.
“For weeks our nation has been has been gripped by stories of families being separated at the border by the zero tolerance policies of the Trump Administration and the failure of Congress to correct this grand tragedy,” said Cahill. “Reports that one of the children is being held in the City of Kingston now make this horror a local story. As the effects of this inhumane directive seep into our community, it is incumbent upon Congress and, in particular, Representative John Faso to take a stand against an administration that has, with the stroke of a pen, the authority to put an immediate end to this atrocity.”
Congress is working on legislation, but has yet to come to agreement. The New York Times reports that Senate Republicans have put forward a bill that would allow parents and children to stay together while the courts consider their status, while the House is considering two different, more sweeping bills: one supported by Conservatives and another compromise bill. Both “address the family separation issue to different degrees, while also strengthening border security and making other changes to the country’s immigration system,” according to the Times.
U.S. Rep. John Faso supports the compromise bill, the final details of which are still being worked out. According to a summary:
“The consensus legislation provides robust border security and the funding needed to build a wall and infrastructure along the Southern border, contains more tools to help prevent illegal immigration and human smuggling, modernizes the United States’ immigration system, provides a legislative solution for those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children without creating a special pathway to citizenship, creates a new merit-based immigration program that rewards those with the skills, education and work experience the U.S. needs, and remedies current law and court decisions to keep children and parents together as much as possible when they are apprehended.”
In a release yesterday Faso stated:
“This is a humanitarian issue, and the policy of separating children from their parents is wrong and needs to be addressed immediately. For too many years and administrations, Washington has failed to address how to secure our borders while also ensuring our immigration policies are humane and address the real challenges our border enforcement officers face every day. Congress should address this issue quickly, and the compromise legislation I support will do so. In addition, this legislation improves border security, resolves the status of the DACA population and contains other reforms such as the end of the diversity lottery. This legislation would be the most significant reform to our broken immigration system in many decades, and it represents a good-faith compromise that will forever put an end to this disruptive practice.”
Cahill accused Faso and the rest of the House Republicans of attempting to use the crisis to pass other policies.
“Some in Washington, including Congressman Faso, would join the Administration by grandstanding and holding these children hostage in a cynical attempt to lump bad policies in with the need for immediate action,” said Cahill. “Instead, our federal representatives should just rebuke this practice right now and call this out as the politically motivated crisis that it is.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, who isn’t supporting any of the GOP legislation up for debate, said the Trump administration could resolve the issue easily by ending its “zero-tolerance” approach to enforcement.
Ulster Publishing reporters are working on this developing story. Stay tuned…