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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 CruzBoehner: 'There's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party' Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers 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 BarrassoSunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows As Congress considers infrastructure, don't forget rural America MORE (Wyo.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate GOP opens door to earmarks Thune: 'There are Republicans who would vote' for smaller infrastructure package Republicans can't handle the truth about taxes MORE (Mo.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoTrump faces test of power with early endorsements The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats MORE (Idaho), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTrump faces test of power with early endorsements OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum MORE (Mont.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump faces test of power with early endorsements GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border Blackburn introduces bill to require migrant DNA testing at border MORE (Iowa), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchPress: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! Privatization of foster care has been a disaster for children Remembering Ted Kennedy highlights decline of the Senate MORE (Utah), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Senate GOP pushes back on list of participants in oil and gas leasing forum Small cities fret over feds redefining metro areas MORE (N.D.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies MORE (Utah), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBiden defense budget criticized by Republicans, progressives alike Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase Senate GOP slams Biden defense budget MORE (Okla.), Jim RischJim Elroy RischGOP lawmakers block Biden assistance to Palestinians Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows The Hill's Morning Report - Biden shifts on filibuster MORE (Idaho), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (Kan.), Mike RoundsMike RoundsCongress looks to rein in Biden's war powers Columbine and the era of the mass shooter, two decades on GOP senator tweets statue of himself holding gun to Biden: 'Come and take it' MORE (S.D.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioNikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges MORE (Fla.), Ben SasseBen SasseBipartisan lawmakers signal support for Biden cybersecurity picks To encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision Maine GOP rejects motion to censure Collins MORE (Neb.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottShocking killing renews tensions over police Democrat: 'Registration, engagement' are keys to toppling Sen. Tim Scott in South Carolina Passage of FASTER Act is critical for food allergy community MORE (S.C.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick Wicker OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | House GOP's planned environmental bills drop Democratic priorities | Advocates optimistic Biden infrastructure plan is a step toward sustainability On The Money: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | Democrats debate tax hikes on wealthy | Biden, Congress target semiconductor shortage Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan MORE (Miss.) and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungTo encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision Senate Republicans voice opposition to Biden on Iran Biden infrastructure proposal prioritizes funds for emerging technologies 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 CornynOn The Money: Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan | Democrats debate tax hikes on wealthy | Biden, Congress target semiconductor shortage Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Lawmakers, industry call on Biden to fund semiconductor production amid shortage 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 FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' 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 FeinsteinCaitlyn Jenner exploring bid for California governor: report WokeWorld comes for 'oppressor' Obama: Activists rip school being named after 'deporter in chief' Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision MORE (D-Calif.) that aims to prevent the separation of immigrant families. Republicans say her bill is too broad.