The top Republican on the House subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security demanded that the Trump administration end its forced separation of parents and children at the U.S. border, going further than many of his congressional colleagues in his demands.
Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for him to end the controversial policy.
“I ask that you take immediate action to end the practice of separating children from families at the border,” Yoder says in the letter. “Separating children from their parents should not be used as a deterrent.”
The letter is the latest but far from the only plea from congressional Republicans for President Trump and his administration to end this policy, which by the Department of Homeland Security’s own numbers say have separated 2,000 families in recent weeks.
But while Yoder highlights areas of agreement with Trump about other immigration concerns, his language is less mealy-mouthed blaming both sides than other rank-and-file Republicans’ (like this from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)).
That’s why I’m demanding that Attorney General Sessions halt the practice of family separation at the border immediately as Congress works toward legislative solutions. pic.twitter.com/4Ep86WJfRU
— Rep. Kevin Yoder (@RepKevinYoder) June 18, 2018
The letter comes just hours after a Quinnipiac University poll found that fully 66 percent of voters oppose the policy, with just 27 percent in favor, though a majority of Republicans supported the policy in the survey.
Notably, Yoder is facing a tough reelection fight in his swingy suburban Kansas City district.
And he’s not the only campaign-minded Republican who bucked Trump on the policy Monday: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) also called on the administration to “stop needlessly separating” families on Thursday:
Trump’s deeply controversial plan has earned criticism from other Republicans as well — but most of the elected officials until Monday afternoon had been the Republicans who’d already shown a willingness to criticize Trump in the past, like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), or those out of office, like former First Lady Laura Bush.
That’s begun to change, as Yoder’s letter indicates. And others are beginning to split off as well, like Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), another member facing a tough reelection fight, who called the policy “ugly and inhumane” in a statement. And even some rank-and-file Republicans who aren’t facing a tough reelection began to speak out:
Unless there is a sign of abuse or neglect, mothers should not be separated from their children.
— Jeff Fortenberry (@JeffFortenberry) June 18, 2018
While DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen continued to falsely insist the new policy was not new policy on Monday afternoon, Republicans increasingly sounded increasingly skeptical of her misleading claims.
It remains to be seen whether enough Republicans break with the administration to actually force change, however, as they don’t yet appear to have a serious legislative response even as they ready a House vote on other immigration measures later this week.