GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border

GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border
© Greg Nash

GOP senators on Tuesday introduced legislation aimed at preventing the separation of immigrant families detained along the U.S.-Mexico border while seeking asylum.

The bill, spearheaded by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump argues full Supreme Court needed to settle potential election disputes Press: Notorious RBG vs Notorious GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy MORE (R-Texas), would require that the children are kept with their family members unless a child welfare official determines it is in the best interest of the child to be separated, or if the child is believed to be a victim of human trafficking, neglect or abuse.

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The measure also would provide an "expedited process" to require that immigrants with children have their asylum claims processed within 14 days; double the number of federal immigration judges from roughly 375 to 750; and authorize new family shelters for children and their parents while their asylum claims are being processed.

"Over the past few weeks, Americans have been rightly horrified by the images and videos coming from our southern border, where tearful children are being pulled away from their mothers and fathers," Cruz said in a statement. "I hope that my Democratic colleagues can join with us to stop the crisis that is occurring at the border."

In addition to Cruz, the legislation is supported by GOP Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senator attacks Biden: 'I'm not sure what he recalls' Oil and gas is a partner — not an adversary — in meeting our economic and environmental goals Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election MORE (Wyo.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSocial media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda MORE (Mo.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBottom line Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Top GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations MORE (Idaho), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTrump seeks to turn around campaign with Supreme Court fight McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Will Republicans' rank hypocrisy hinder their rush to replace Ginsburg? MORE (Mont.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Liberal super PAC launches ads targeting vulnerable GOP senators over SCOTUS fight Romney backs pre-election Supreme Court vote, paving way for McConnell, Trump MORE (Iowa), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  MORE (Utah), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Bottom line Bipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock MORE (N.D.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell shores up GOP support for coronavirus package McConnell tries to unify GOP Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (Utah), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeChamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Top admiral: 'No condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' MORE (Okla.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischWhy the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque MORE (Idaho), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill GOP senators say coronavirus deal dead until after election MORE (Kan.), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsSenate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Senate GOP eyes early exit MORE (S.D.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up Press: Notorious RBG vs Notorious GOP MORE (Fla.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseGovernment watchdog recommends creation of White House cyber director position Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Ben Sasse is mistaken with idea for the election of senators in America MORE (Neb.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAuthor Ryan Girdusky: RNC worked best when highlighting 'regular people' as opposed to 'standard Republicans' Now is the time to renew our focus on students and their futures GOP lobbyists pleasantly surprised by Republican convention MORE (S.C.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy MORE (Pa.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerBottom line Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' MORE (Miss.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate GOP eyes early exit Why the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (Ind.).

The bill introduction comes as lawmakers scramble to respond to the growing political backlash over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that has led to immigrant families being separated along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Liberal super PAC launches ads targeting vulnerable GOP senators over SCOTUS fight Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said earlier Tuesday that a group of senators is working to craft legislation that would merge several ideas being debated by Republicans, including Cruz's bill, into a measure that could win over GOP senators.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeJeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Republican former Michigan governor says he's voting for Biden Maybe they just don't like cowboys: The president is successful, some just don't like his style MORE (R-Ariz.) told reporters that a group is working to try to hash out a bill that could win support from Republicans and Democrats, whose votes will be necessary if a measure is going to get through the Senate.

Flake noted that while Cruz's bill "has a lot of good things in it," he expected Democrats wouldn't be able to support some of the provisions.

"My preference, and the preference of a number of us there, is to not just have a side-by-side and have a bill that we can vote against because we have our own, but we actually sit down and draft a bill that can pass," he said. "So that's what some of us are trying to do."

So far, there are no signs of a bill that could get the 60 votes needed to clear the chamber.

Democrats on Tuesday downplayed the need for legislation, arguing Trump could change the policy on his own. But that hasn't stopped them from lining up behind a measure from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinBiden leads Trump by 12 points among Catholic voters: poll Names to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court McConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote MORE (D-Calif.) that aims to prevent the separation of immigrant families. Republicans say her bill is too broad.