Democrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border

Democrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border
© Greg Nash
Senate Democrats knocked President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE's migrant detention policies after a visit to facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday and pledged to push for changes to the administration's handling of asylum seekers.
More than a dozen Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.), toured facilities in McAllen, Texas, and met with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. 
"You need to change the policy from the top, that includes the president, that includes Mr. [Stephen] Miller, that includes the very top people at CBP," Schumer said during a press conference after the visits, referring to Customs and Border Protection. 
Schumer added that McAleenan had told them that 2 or 3 percent of immigrants coming into the United States are criminals but "if you listened to the president you would think all of them were criminals, they're not." 
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, called the situation along the border a "humanitarian crisis of Donald Trump's making." 
"The president uses language which is only about fear and smear and demonize and divide instead of leading the country in the right direction," added Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyScranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Grassley tests positive for coronavirus Casey says he isn't thinking about Pennsylvania gubernatorial bid in 2022 MORE Jr. (D-Pa.). 
Friday's visit comes a week after Vice President Pence traveled with GOP lawmakers to the border. In a White House pool report, Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey described seeing more than 380 men behind fences with no pillows or mats to sleep on and not enough space for everyone to lie down.
Schumer said they were told that officials tried to "make things look better" ahead of their visit but described conditions as "awful." 
"We were told that they tried to make things look better the day before, 400 people were taken out of one facility yesterday. But even with that it's awful the conditions these people are placed in," he said. 
Democrats shared videos throughout their trip, including speaking with children and families currently detained along the border. 
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) also shared a video of his discussions with a family he said had traveled for seven months with a baby from Honduras, which they left to flee gang violence.
"These parents overwhelmingly face a choice: Stay and die, see my daughter raped or have my child put forcibly into a gang and if not they die," Menendez said during a press conference. "If that's my choice as a parent, as a grandparent I'm going to leave." 
Democrats pledged that they would push for changes to detention and asylum policies once they return to Washington next week, but any legislation faces an uphill path in the GOP-controlled Senate. 
"We still start the debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee about President Trump's proposal," said Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinCongress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat. "We are going to talk about what we saw today, what we saw with these family and these children." 
Schumer added that Democrats were ready to work with Republicans but said they had been "intransigent." 
"We'd like to work with the Republicans, but so far they've been intransigent," he said. "Donald Trump … makes the Republicans afraid to come together with us."