Tarrant County area congressional leaders are among those calling on President Donald Trump to stop separating parents and children caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, said people in her district — who have protested outside her office — are concerned about the issue.
"There needs to be a better way to secure our borders," Granger said in a statement Tuesday, noting that she was looking forward to hearing Trump and his administration weigh in on the policy. "These children did not make the choice to cross the border and shouldn't be punished for it."
Her comments came before a Republican House compromise immigration bill was announced. This bill would end the family separation issue, but some Democrats have said they won't support it. Instead, they want the president to address the issue.
Granger said she has been working with House Republicans to try to find a better solution.
"I am hopeful that this week the House will pass a bill that keeps families together, strengthens our borders and reforms our broken immigration system," said Granger, who in 2014 led a task force to assess problems at the border.
The Trump administration weeks ago began enforcing a zero tolerance policy that prosecutes anyone caught illegally crossing the border. When families are caught, the children have been taken from their parents and housed separately — sparking criticism from advocacy groups, regular citizens, even all former living first ladies.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz introduced the Protect Kids and Parents Act designed to keep immigrant families intact. His plan keeps children with their parents, as long as the adults haven't been linked to criminal activity.
"All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers," Cruz said in a statement this week. "This must stop."
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, quickly called the policy that prosecutes those caught crossing the border illegally — even those seeking asylum — "abhorrent."
"It is an atrocity that families are being torn apart at our borders, and in my state of Texas," Veasey said in a statement. "This is an abhorrent policy and I will continue working to put an end to family separation and ensure this does not become our new normal. "
Veasey co-sponsored the Keep Families Together Act, geared to prevent the separation of families at the border. It's the House version of the bill introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
"We need real long lasting immigration reform and protection for our Dreamers and active duty service members and veterans, who have fought for our country," he said. "Trump will not win by demoralizing these communities and abolishing their patriotism. America’s diversity, and ability to be a sanctuary from violence is what makes our country great."
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U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, said no one wants to see families separated, for whatever reason.
“Children brought illegally into the United States continue to be the greatest victims of failed immigration policies," said Williams, whose district stretches from the edges of Tarrant County through Austin. "America is a compassionate nation, and those wishing to have a piece of the American Dream should be willing to start by following our laws.
"It’s time to finally pass legislation that makes our country safer and stronger, and that starts with securing our borders.”
U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, took to Twitter to state that the Trump administration is simply enforcing the law. But he also quoted President Abraham Lincoln, who once said "the best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."
"The American government should not incentivize illegal immigration," he said. "In the interest of safety, we must not encourage sending kids through dangerous conditions in order to cross the border and gain entry."
He said those who are determined to come to the United States "should leave children at home."
Burgess introduced a measure to withhold foreign aid from countries that send children to the United States.
"As we consider solutions, we must hold foreign countries accountable to improving the lives of their children," he tweeted.