Controversial New York Republican House candidate Michael Grimm compared the audio recording of children in distress crying for their parents inside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility to upset children who were just dropped off at daycare.
“I think it’s extremely unfortunate,” he told NY 1 on Tuesday. “But what people are forgetting — they just want to listen to those tapes — I can take you to any nursery and you’re going to hear the same exact things as a mother leaves to go to work and has to leave her child at day care. You’re going to hear those same exact things.”
He later added that the kids — who have been separated from their recently arrested parents — now have access to things like “flat screen TVs, pool tables, foosball.”
“They have things they have never even seen before in their country,” he said. “Right now, the Trump administration is obeying the law. A child comes across our borders unaccompanied, we take care of that child. The few thousands of children being separated by their families — the Trump administration’s interpretation of the law is that’s what they are required to do.”
Grimm’s comments — comparing a voluntary daycare to an immigrant detention center — come amid widespread uproar over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which has fueled a significant uptick in the number of children being separated from their parents after the adults are arrested and criminally charged for crossing the border. Under previous administrations, children were detained in immigrant detention centers with their parents.
Grimm, who left Congress in 2015 after he plead guilty to tax fraud and served seven months in prison, is facing Republican Rep. Dan Donovan in the upcoming Republican primary to represent Staten Island.
While Grimm’s Tuesday comments were appalling, Donovan also seized on a conservative talking point that the kids are being “taken care of.”
“They are horrible images, but the United States has taken good care of those children. So many of those — ten thousand of those children — are sent across the border unaccompanied. We’ve taken care of those children,” Donovan said.