GOP rep: We should not be using immigrant kids as deterrent policy

Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHere are the eight Republicans who voted with Democrats on the Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act Iraq War vet Ortiz Jones sets up rematch against Hurd in Texas MORE (R-Texas) called the Trump administration's policy of separating families who cross the border illegally "unacceptable," and asserted that the White House has the ability to end the practice without waiting for Congress.

"To me it makes it very clear that in the home of the free and the land of the brave we should not be using kids as a deterrent policy. This is something I think is actually unacceptable and it’s something that as Americans we shouldn’t be doing," Hurd said on CNN late Saturday.

"And this really isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue," he continued. "This is an issue about how should you treat children."

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Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump Chris Wallace: AG Barr 'clearly is protecting' Trump Appeals court rules Trump end of DACA was unlawful MORE announced last month that the Justice Department would enact a "zero tolerance" policy and aggressively prosecute adults attempting to cross the U.S.–Mexico border illegally. At the time, Sessions acknowledged the process could lead to children being separated from their parents upon being apprehended.

Trump administration officials have repeatedly defended the policy, arguing that it acts as a deterrent against illegal immigration.

Reporters and lawmakers, including Hurd, toured Texas holding facilities for migrant children in recent days, and raised new concerns about their treatment. One reporter likened the location to a prison, while Hurd said the kids are living in good conditions.

However, he warned that the facilities illustrate an underlying issue with policies toward immigrants. 

"Based on the visit and seeing the volume, we need to stop separating kids from their families, and we need to make sure we're putting a little bit more focus on addressing the root causes in Central America," Hurd said Saturday.

Hurd also disputed President Trump's claim that the policy is in place because Democrats won't agree to negotiate stricter immigration laws.

"This is clearly something that the administration can change. They don't need legislation to change it," Hurd said.