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 MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration 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 TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration 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 FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (D-Calif.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO’Rourke not ruling out being vice presidential candidate CNN ripped for hiring former Republican operative as political editor: 'WTF?!?!' The Hill's Morning Report - Can Bernie recapture 2016 magic? MORE (R-Texas) and John CornynJohn CornynO’Rourke not ruling out being vice presidential candidate O'Rourke mulling another Senate run as well as presidential bid Texas senator introduces bill to produce coin honoring Bushes 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.”