As many Americans continue to watch in horror as the Trump administration detains thousands of migrant children while their parents are prosecuted for illegal border crossings, Republicans in Congress have shown their complicity in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that House Republican leadership has devised a plan that would see migrant children detained alongside their parents, rather than separating the families – but it comes with a catch.
The provision is included in a “discussion draft” of broader GOP legislation aimed at striking a compromise on immigration between conservative and moderate Republicans by balancing relief for young undocumented immigrants, billions of dollars for President Trump’s border wall and changes to legal immigration programs.
As Common Dreams notes, rather than take Sessions’ policy headon, GOP leadership is willing to continue the practice of “the mass and unjust detention of asylum-seeking families” while attempting to save face by keeping families together through the process.
Further, by tying the relief for families to Trump’s border wall funding, Republicans have shown they are willing to hold innocent children hostage for political gain.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes put the move in blunt terms via Twitter Thursday:
"As if they haven't sunk low enoug [sic], the GOP is now going to try to use a bunch of functionally kidnapped children as literal hostages for garbage immigration policy and more crackdowns. It's monstrous."
As the Huffington Post's Elise Foley pointed out on Thursday, the Trump administration's decision to separate immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border is not required by existing law—as the White House continues to falsely insist, with frequent references to the Christian Bible—but is rather an explicit and unilateral policy change made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"Family separations are due to the Trump administration's new zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, which necessitates locking up parents separately so they can be criminally prosecuted," Foley explains.