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Dem senator blasts administration for 'cruelty and incompetence' after immigration briefing

Dem senator blasts administration for 'cruelty and incompetence' after immigration briefing
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBipartisan infrastructure deal takes fire from left and right Senate Judiciary begins investigation into DOJ lawmaker subpoenas Garland pledges review of DOJ policies amid controversy MORE (D-Ill.) knocked the Trump administration's effort to reunite migrant families separated at the U.S.–Mexico border following a closed-door briefing with senators this week. 

"It was clear from my meeting yesterday that the Administration is working harder to stop the court-ordered reunification of these families than returning the kids. In the well-worn words of President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE: sad," Durbin said in a tweet on Friday.

Durbin's remarks came amid a string of tweets in which he called the Trump administration's "lack of answers" about migrant families' whereabouts and well-being "shocking." 

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He added that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has only been able to match a small fraction of immigrant parents with children in federal custody, calling those efforts an example of "cruelty and incompetence at work by the Trump administration."

Durbin's comments come after the administration was scheduled to brief Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema 'If this thing qualifies, I'm toast': An oral history of the Gray Davis recall in California The big myths about recall elections MORE (D-Calif.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military GOP senators press Justice Department to compare protest arrests to Capitol riot MORE (R-Texas) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisInfighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms Lara Trump lost her best opportunity — if she ever really wanted it 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 MORE (R-N.C.) on Thursday before senators left town for a weeklong recess. 

Spokespeople for Cruz and Tillis confirmed that the briefing took place. Feinstein's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senators requested the briefing amid ongoing efforts to reach a deal on narrow legislation that would address migrant families detained for crossing into the U.S. illegally via the southern border. 

Trump signed an executive order earlier this month to end his administration's "zero tolerance" policy that resulted in the separation of thousands of immigrant families detained along the border. 

But the executive order has resulted in confusion on Capitol Hill, with different agencies offering contradictory statements on how that order is being carried out. 

The closed-door briefing followed the House's rejection last week of two broader immigration bills that also would have addressed family separations. 

And deep political divides in the Senate are complicating the chances of getting a deal on immigration — already considered a political lightening rod — months before the midterm elections. 

Conservatives are warning Republicans against agreeing to "amnesty," arguing it would spark backlash from the base. GOP senators, meanwhile, have lined up behind legislation that would allow immigrant families to be detained together. 

Democrats, too, are facing pressure from the left among those who are skeptical that the senators could support a deal involving Cruz, a conservative firebrand facing a tougher-than-expected reelection fight against Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke considering Texas governor bid: report O'Rourke clarifies remarks, leaves door open to gubernatorial bid O'Rourke says he's not planning on run for Texas governor MORE (D). 

Credo Action, a progressive outside group, launched a petition this week arguing Feinstein and Durbin shouldn't compromise with Cruz. 

"It is appalling that Sens. Feinstein and Durbin want to negotiate with Cruz," the petition says. "Tell Sens. Feinstein, Durbin and all congressional Democrats: No compromises with Republican extremism on immigration.