WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday dug in on his zero tolerance policy at the Mexican border, and as the uproar of separating children from their parents grows, six of the seven GOP House members from Illinois – who usually don’t split with Trump – distanced themselves or disagreed outright with Trump’s actions.
Trump throughout Tuesday heaped confusion on the chaos, triggered by his stepped up enforcement aimed at asylum seekers and illegal border crossers – in his Twitter posts, in a rambling speech where he attacked immigration judges and in a closed-door meeting with House GOP members.
House Republican leaders who control the chamber scheduled votes on two immigration bills on Thursday, not because of Trump’s zero tolerance policy.
Neither of the two measures can muster the votes to pass the House nor get the supermajority needed in the Senate, where Republicans need Democratic support for passage.
Why are these bills being called on Thursday? The House leaders did so to thwart a petition drive launched earlier by moderate Republicans to get a vote for legislation to shield “Dreamers” from deportation. That petition drive was almost successful, falling only two signatures short.
None of the seven Illinois House Republicans – Peter Roskam; Randy Hultgren; Adam Kinzinger; Darin LaHood; Rodney Davis; Michael Bost and John Shimkus – would sign that petition – to allow up or down votes on a measure to help “Dreamers,” youths in the U.S. illegally through no fault of their own.
All the Illinois House Democrats signed the petition to get a vote on a Dreamer bill. Any two Illinois Republican lawmakers have made the difference by signing the petition to allow a roll call.
While the fate of the Dreamers festered and the petition drive fizzled, the child separation issue exploded.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both disagreed with Trump’s hardline approach and said families have to be held together while there cases are processed. This gives GOP lawmakers political cover to break with Trump.
Kinzinger said in a Tuesday tweet, “As I’ve said, the practice of splitting children from their families must end — it should have ended long ago. We need to pass a broader solution for our broken #immigration system. I’m alarmed by the reports & would support a stand alone to fix this issue now.”
As I’ve said, the practice of splitting children from their families must end— it should have ended long ago. We need to pass a broader solution for our broken #immigration system. I’m alarmed by the reports & would support a stand alone to fix this issue now.— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) June 19, 2018
WCIA-TV in Champaign reported that Rodney Davis said the Department of Homeland Security “should ‘absolutely not’ be separating children from their parents at the border.”
Last Thursday, Roskam said in a statement, “Dragging children away from their parents ought not be a part of the solution,” urging the administration “to reverse the zero tolerance policy that removes children from their parents at the border.”
Others did not go that far.
Shimkus wrote in Facebook, “Separating families seeking asylum is upsetting and unnecessary, and it’s an unfortunate result of our broken immigration system and unsecured borders.”
Hultgren said in a Tweet, “I am troubled by the situation at the border” and he was “pleased the House is working on legislation for DACA recipients.”
...I will continue to push for a humane and immediate solution. Our laws must be followed, but how we enforce those laws matters and reflects who we are as Americans.— Rep. Randy Hultgren (@RepHultgren) June 19, 2018
LaHood said, “The news coming from our border is heartbreaking, and further emphasizes the need for comprehensive, bipartisan reforms to our immigration policies.
Bost is the only member of the Illinois delegation to back Trump, the Belleville News-Democrat reported, comparing the separation at the border to what might happen if a parent “were caught shoplifting at a local store and you had children with you.”
The Democratic challengers – Sean Casten v. Roskam; Lauren Underwood v. Hultgren and Brendan Kelly v. Bost all are using the child separation issue.
Trump ranted against a suggestion to add more immigration judges, casting doubt on the entire legal system.
Said Trump, “We don’t want judges; we want security on the border. We don’t want people coming in. We want them to come in through a legal process like everybody else that’s waiting to come into our country.”
Without Trump getting his border wall with a deal he won’t likely back down. Not for now.
FOOTNOTES: The American Business Immigration Coalition, has been pushing the Illinois House GOP members to work on Dreamer measures and other immigration legislation for years. John Rowe, Exelon Chairman Emeritus, a coalition leader and a GOP donor and fundraiser said in a statement, “Playing politics with the lives of immigrant children, both Dreamers and children at the border is immoral, cruel and does not fix our broken immigration system. This specific travesty erodes our core values as Americans and human beings.”
Later on Tuesday, after the Trumping meeting with the GOP House members, The Republican Main Street Caucus, chaired by Rep. Rodney Davis said in a statement, “Since the beginning of this debate, Main Street members have been committed to finding a permanent solution for DACA recipients and adequate funding for border security that will prevent dangerous drugs, illegal guns, and criminals from flowing through our country. The President made clear tonight that a solution addressing these growing issues is long overdue. We are encouraged by his support and urge our colleagues to support this solution that gives certainty to DACA recipients, ends the cruel practice of separating families at the border, and provides $25 billion for border security. It’s our hope that this House will show leadership and be an example to the rest of the country that we can address many of these problems that have been facing our country for decades.”