Freedom Caucus chair unveils bill to end Trump family separation policy

Freedom Caucus chair unveils bill to end Trump family separation policy
© Greg Nash

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Graham to renew call for second special counsel Hillicon Valley: Sanders finds perfect target in Amazon | Cyberattacks are new fear 17 years after 9/11 | Firm outs alleged British Airways hackers | Trump to target election interference with sanctions | Apple creating portal for police data requests MORE (R-N.C.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that would end the separation of immigrant families at the border as the White House scrambles to contain the fallout from the controversial policy.

The bill from Meadows, one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s top allies in Congress and a conservative ringleader, would allow children to be detained with their parents.

The measure would also make it more difficult to seek asylum in the United States — a top priority for conservatives that could stop Democrats from backing the measure.

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“We need to better enforce our immigration laws, but we can do so while keeping parents and children together. I believe my bill will help do that,” said Meadows, who visited the White House earlier on Monday. 

The Trump administration has faced intense outrage from both Democrats and Republicans for its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has forced immigrant children to be separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump has shown no signs of backing down on the policy, however, and has tried to shift the blame on Democrats. 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been pleading with the president to end the policy, which has become a flashpoint in the already divisive immigration debate.

Trump is scheduled on Tuesday to huddle with congressional Republicans at the Capitol to build consensus on immigration issues.

The House is supposed to vote on a broad immigration bill protecting so-called Dreamers on Thursday that also contains language to end family separations, but that legislation is expected to fail.

At that point, Congress will be under immense pressure to pass a standalone measure providing a fix for family separations. A number of lawmakers in both parties have introduced  — or are planning — bills on the subject, including Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Grassley wants unredacted version of letter from Kavanaugh's accuser Gillibrand: Kavanaugh accuser shouldn't participate in 'sham' hearing MORE (D-Calif.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSinger Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson in performing at O’Rourke rally Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Poll: Beto O'Rourke leads Cruz by 2 points in Texas Senate race MORE (R-Texas) and John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas.).

The measure from Meadows, however, would provide a more conservative solution to the issue. Not only would it raise asylum thresholds in an attempt to crack down an “asylum fraud,” but the bill also would treat unaccompanied minors from Mexico the same as minors from other countries that don’t border the U.S., among other things.

“U.S. border officials need better tools to control the system, keep out violent criminals, and identify those who may be seeking to illegitimately take advantage of our asylum laws,” Meadows said. “By cutting down on asylum fraud, we can keep families together without running a greater risk of traffickers or violent criminals using children to take advantage of the rules.”