WASHINGTON – More than 2,300 children of immigrants crossing into the United States illegally have been sent to shelters along America’s southern border.
Now a parade of politicians, lawyers and medical professionals are visiting them in hopes of calling attention to a situation many agree has gotten out of hand.
Officials visiting three shelters in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the most popular border crossing locations, describe playrooms filled with crying preschool-aged children in crisis.
President Donald Trump traveled to Capitol Hill Tuesday evening to meet with Republican lawmakers to talk about immigration policy.
He told them he’ll support either of the bills being considered in the House this week aimed at fixing the border debacle.
Trump wants to Congress to end the practice of separating families, but also wants to enact his tough border security measures.
“The immigration system, it’s been a really bad, bad system. We’re going to try and see if we can fix it,” the president said.
For now, enforcing the law at the border is necessary, border agents say, to deter people from bringing children in as pawns to gain access to America.
However, scenes of children crying for their moms and dads is creating tension among Republicans who want to find a solution.
Some critics liken the zero-tolerance policy to the selling of the children of black slaves or the government forcing Native American families to send their children to bording schools in the late 1800s.
“Until 1865, rip African-American children from their parents. From 1870s to 1970s, rip Native American children from their parents. Now, rip children of immigrants and refugees from their parents,” the African American Research Collaborative recently tweeted.
Henry Fernandez is co-founder of the collaborative and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
“In each case, we look back at the programs as barbaric,” Fernandez told The Washington Post. “History will similarly consider the Trump administration’s ripping children from their parents as an unconscionably evil government action.”
But Johnnie Moore, an unofficial spokesman for the president’s faith advisory council, says it’s ultimately up to Congress, not the White House, to the fix the situation.
“Nearly every member of Congress believes our immigration system is broken, as do the vast majority of all Americans (including this one); so, Congress should fix it, now! Enough is enough!” he said.
“They should immediately protect Dreamers, secure our borders and comprehensively reform the entire system, fixing countless outdated, flawed and – sometimes – ridiculous policies that have created unjust outcomes for immigrants and for Americans and have forced impossible choices upon law enforcement,” he continued. “Congress must act, now!”