Democratic senator: White House has 'used cruelty to children' as a tool of immigration policy

Democratic senator: White House has 'used cruelty to children' as a tool of immigration policy
© Greg Nash

Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip MORE (D-Del.) on Sunday blasted the Trump administration’s handling of immigration, accusing the White House of using “cruelty to children” to affect policy changes.

“We've got an administration that has intentionally used cruelty to children as a tool of immigration policy,” Coons said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” citing reports of overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at detention facilities.

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“There are ways in which the administration has demonstrably failed in its moral responsibility to provide minimally reasonable care for children in their custody,” he added.

Coons also hit acting United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli, the previous guest on the show, for blaming the conditions on “loopholes” in asylum law.

“These aren’t loopholes, these are core features of American law,” he told CBS’s Margaret Brennan.

Coons said Congress is willing to address immigration issues, noting ongoing bipartisan efforts by Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE (D-Ill.), but said President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE had complicated the process by repeatedly reversing himself on proposals he appeared to support after receiving criticism from the right.

“The challenge [for Congress] is the ways in which President Trump initially embraces and then abruptly reverses himself and opposes those bipartisan proposals that have been brought to him,” Coons said.

“The president just needs to be clear about what he’s willing to embrace” and secure majority support from congressional Republicans as well, Coons added.