McConnell backs bill to keep immigrant families together:

McConnell backs bill to keep immigrant families together:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday announced his support for a bill to keep immigrant families detained at the border together.

“I support, and all of the senators of the Republican conference support, a plan that keeps families together,” McConnell told reporters.

Republican lawmakers are scrambling to avert a public relations disaster as backlash grows in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration, which has seen thousands of children separated from their parents after their parents were detained over the past several weeks.
“We need to fix the problem and it requires a legislative solution,” McConnell added, dismissing a claim from Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) that President Trump could address the crisis without going through Congress.
The GOP leader, however, argued against trying to add other immigration-related proposals to the measure.
“My assumption is in order to fix this problem you can’t fix all the problems,” McConnell said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, has circulated a letter among colleagues calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the practice — at least temporarily.

“I’m asking for a pause,” Hatch said. “I think we ought to pause and look at this very carefully.”

He also plans to call Trump in the next few days to make a personal appeal.

“When it comes to families, I don’t want people tampering with these families. These kids, they should be with their parents and I’m very upset with what’s happening here,” he said.

Several Republican senators are working on legislation that would keep families together while they are undergoing prosecution for illegal immigration or waiting on asylum requests.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is taking the lead, said the legislation could move as a stand-alone measure or be attached to the spending bill now under consideration on the floor.

“We consider this an urgent matter. I think everybody has seen these terrible scenes of children being separated from their parents and wants to try to come up with a solution,” he told reporters.

Cornyn and his allies rolled out a plan during a lunch meeting Tuesday that would require that families be kept together in a humane setting and put them at the “head of the line” to see a judge if they have a request for asylum or other legal claim to be admitted to the country.

Cornyn said he hoped “this is something we could do in a matter of days.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will introduce his own bill later in the week that would double the number of federal immigration judges and mandate that immigrant families be kept together unless they are accused of aggravated illegal conduct.

His proposal would also authorize new shelters to keep those families together.

“We need to fix the problem and hope that we do,” he said. “I’ve engaged in ongoing conversations with my colleagues, including Sen. Cornyn.”

BY ALEXANDER BOLTON – 
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