Hatch circulates letter calling for freeze on border separations

Hatch circulates letter calling for freeze on border separations
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchNY's political prosecution of Manafort should scare us all Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders The FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate MORE (Utah) is circulating a letter among his colleagues calling for Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMueller's investigation ends, but divisive political circus will continue Mueller delivers report to Justice, ending investigation Trump says 'people will not stand' for Mueller report MORE to put a freeze on the separation of immigrant families along the border until Congress can pass legislation addressing the problem. 

"Senator Hatch plans to send a letter to the Justice Department later today calling for a pause on family separations until Congress has time to pass a legislative solution to this issue," Matt Whitlock, Hatch's deputy chief of staff, confirmed to The Hill. 

The Finance Committee chairman, who is retiring after this year, initially told reporters earlier Tuesday that he is working on the letter. His office noted that they plan to publicly release the letter later Tuesday after senators have signed on. 

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The letter comes as Trump's policies that are resulting in the separation of immigrant families along the border have sparked a wave of backlash from Republicans on and off Capitol Hill. 

Hatch told reporters on Monday evening that he thought the White House had the ability to change how families are being handled along the border and ”the way it's being handled right now is not acceptable." 

"I think we've got to try and keep families together and do whatever it takes to keep them together. ... I think the White House can fix it if they want to. I don't think there's any question about that," Hatch said. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Tuesday that a group of senators are drafting legislation aimed at keeping families together while they are detained and speeding up court hearings. 

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary The Memo: Trump can't let go of McCain grudge Michael Bennet is close to deciding on possible presidential bid MORE (R-Texas) separately said Monday that he is going to introduce legislation, and Democrats have united behind a bill from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe GOP lawmaker offers constitutional amendment capping Supreme Court seats at 9 Overnight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power MORE (D-Calif.). 

The Department of Homeland Security is, for the first time, prosecuting people who are caught crossing the border illegally, a crime that’s been on the books since 1986. The move comes after Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy earlier this year for immigrants illegally crossing the Southwest border. 

"If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said at a press conference at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law."