McConnell backs bill to keep immigrant families together

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Democrats: A moment in history, use it wisely 'Comrade' Trump gets 'endorsement' from Putin in new mock ad by Lincoln Project MORE (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.

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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 SchumerChuck SchumerPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday MORE (N.Y.) that President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE 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.
 

“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 CornynJohn CornynSenators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership MORE (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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump administration grants funding extension for Texas testing sites Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech MORE (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.”