Republicans on Capitol Hill have remained largely silent as the Trump administration has forcibly separated thousands of immigrant families, and many have voiced support for the “zero tolerance” policy. Comprehensive immigration reform bills that would have addressed the separations have repeatedly failed in both chambers, while standalone bills introduced in Congress this week to reunite immigrant families and improve conditions in immigration detention have zero Republican co-sponsors. No GOP committee chair has convened a single hearing focused solely on the crisis.
But on Friday, 10 GOP senators signed onto a letter with their Democratic colleagues urging the Trump administration to “use all available resources currently at its disposal to reunite families as soon as possible.”
“From this point forward, the default position of the United States of America is to keep families together,” the bipartisan letter states. “Enforcement of our immigration laws should be a high priority, but we must also adhere to our core moral values as Americans.”
The letter is signed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Angus King (I-ME), James Inhofe (R-OK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
Murkowski added in a separate statement that U.S. immigration policy must be “more effective, appropriate and humane” and called the mass separations a “sad chapter in our nation’s history.”
Though the letter falls far short of legislative action or subpoenas for administration officials to testify, it’s an indication that some Republicans in Congress are losing patience with the Trump administration’s uneven, foot-dragging compliance with court orders to reunite the separated families.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President:
We write to urge your administration to prioritize the reunification of families and to ensure that, from this point forward, the default position of the United States of America is to keep families together.
While we represent constituents from all faiths and political backgrounds, we have all heard one consistent message—the United States government should not separate children from their families except in extreme circumstances. As we work to find a permanent solution, we urge the administration to use all available resources currently at its disposal to reunite families as soon as possible.
Throughout our history, faith-based organizations have partnered with the federal government to help achieve its humanitarian goals. Faith-based organizations, including groups like Sojourners, Catholic Charities USA, World Vision, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Christian Community Development Association, Church World Service, and World Relief are willing and able to support reunification efforts and provide critical services for children and families in need. We encourage you to partner with the faith community to assist with family reunification and keeping families together in the future.
We remain committed to working together to fix our broken immigration system. Enforcement of our immigration laws should be a high priority, but we must also adhere to our core moral values as Americans.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.