Texas senators both introduce bills to keep immigrant families together

Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (left) and Ted Cruz. (U.S. Senate photos)
By  | 

WASHINGTON (KWTX) Republican Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are both introducing legislation aimed at keeping immigrant families together.

Cruz plans to introduce what he calls the Protect Kids and Parents Act, which will increase the number of federal immigration judges from about 375 to 750, authorize new temporary shelters with accommodations for families, and mandate that absent “aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children” that illegal immigrant families be kept together.

The bill would also expedite processing and review of asylum cases so those who meet the standard will be granted asylum within 14 days and those who don’t will be immediately returned to their home countries.

“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week,” he said.

Cornyn plans to reintroduce an updated version of a bill called the HUMANE Act, which he introduced in 2014 with U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, that “will include provisions that mitigate the problem of family separation while improving the immigration court process for unaccompanied children and families apprehended at the border.”

“I would ask our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take a hard look at this bill and to work together to find a reasonable solution for this component of the crisis at our border.”

"We have to keep family members together and prevent unnecessary hardship, stress, and outrage. The good news is we have it within our power to find a better way because parents who are awaiting court proceedings shouldn't have to do so separated from their children, and children shouldn't be taken from their parents and left frightened and confused about where they are and what is transpiring around them."

In the six weeks since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would pursue a zero tolerance policy, prosecuting all immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as criminals, about 2,000 minors have been separated from their parents.