WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan said he is not comfortable with a Trump administration policy that allows for the separation of undocumented children from their parents at the southern border.
“No, I’m not,” Ryan (R-Wis.) said in response to a question at a news conference on Thursday. “This is because of a court ruling, and so this, I do think, ought to be addressed…that’s why I think legislation is necessary.”
When asked if the policy is inhumane, Ryan said: “We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents. I think I just made that really clear.”
The practice of separation coincides with the administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward those who enter the U.S. illegally. Under the policy people who cross the border without permission can be subject to prosecution.
The practice has drawn bipartisan condemnation.
Earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) formally introduced legislation that would prohibit the separation of undocumented families.
Two weeks ago, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was denied access to a detention facility in Texas that houses undocumented children who had been separated from their parents. Police told Merkley that advanced notice of visitation is required.
Merkely wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement seeking answers about the separation policy and the treatment of children held in detention facilities.
In the letter, Merkley cited press reports that claimed “more than 600 children have already been separated from their families since the implementation of this policy at the beginning of May, bringing the total under your care to a staggering 11,200.”
House GOP lawmakers are trying to craft legislation that would both protect the estimated 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and meet the four pillars the administration has said must be part of any deal.
DACA is an Obama administration program that allows children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. for a period of time so long as they meet certain requirements such as attending school, working or serving in the military.
DACA was set to expire on March 5 but a federal injunction has extended the program. In April, a federal judge ruled that the administration must continue to process DACA applications.