U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) toured immigrant detention facilities for children in South Texas, and held a roundtable and press conference at the Weslaco Border Patrol Station.
The roundtable was with representatives from federal agencies involved in the process of receiving, detaining, and adjudicating immigrant families, as well as non-profits and local elected officials, including Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell, Bishop Daniel Flores and Southwest Key Founder Juan Sanchez.
After the roundtable, both senators addressed the media.
“There’s a right way and wrong way to come to America. The right way to come is through legal immigration, through waiting in line, through following the rules,” Cruz said, adding that Americans are with children and immigrants.
“My own father came from Cuba in 1957, he came legally,” Cruz said.
“Here’s the problem I see, zero tolerance means we enforce the laws that are on the book if you don’t have a zero tolerance program that means you have a tolerance program meaning you tolerate illegal immigration, that is the catch and release problem that Senator Cruz and Chief Padilla mentioned,” Cornyn said.
“As we see the numbers spike, that’s when people realize and the cartels and the traffickers realize they can beat the system and actually get people to the United States and circumvent or exploit the gaps in the U.S. law,” he said.
“But where we treat everybody humanely when they are detained, particularly families, keeping them together but have this policy of prosecuting people who violate laws in the books, I think we can actually accomplish both. We can be compassionate and humane understanding the circumstances bringing people to the border are sometimes horrible,” Cornyn said.
Sens. Cruz and Cornyn have also jointly introduced the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act to end the separation of immigrant parents and children at the border.
The bill, in part,
• mandates that illegal immigrant families must be kept together;
• provides for expedited processing and review of the cases of individuals who are here with children, so that within 14 days those who meet the legal standards to stay will be allowed to stay, and those who do not will be returned to their home counties with their families;
• doubles the number of federal immigration judges, an increase from roughly 375 to 750. These new judges will prioritize processing claims of individuals who are here with children; and
• authorizes new family shelters so that children can remain with their parents while their parents’ claims are being processed.