Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and fellow GOP Sen. Jeff Flake authored a letter to Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and her DHHS counterpart Alex Azar this weekend, demanding that she explain discrepancies between what Nielsen told Congress about the administration’s family separation policy and reality.
“Ensuring the safety and security of young children is a longstanding priority of the American legal system,” Flake said in a statement. “In asylum cases, it is especially important to keep families together when neither the child nor the parent has violated any laws.”
Like a good Centrist Republican member 0f Congress, however, Collins doesn’t want to actually fix the problem by rushing too far to the left, i.e. demanding that the administration stop breaking up families. Instead, she wants to find a middle ground where everyone can come together: changing absolutely nothing.
The Portland Press Herald reports:
“What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you,” Collins said. “That’s traumatizing to the children who are innocent victims, and it is contrary to our values in this country.”
Asked by “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan what she is doing to stop the separations, Collins said the “Keep Families Together Act,” introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, is not the answer because it is far too broad.
“And would essentially prevent arrest within 100 miles of the border, even if the person has committed a serious crime or suspected of terrorist activities.” she said.
What does Collins want instead?
Collins called the Democratic Senate bill too broad and said she instead supports the bipartisan immigration deal that fell apart in February. That bill would have created a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and opened up $25 billion for border security. The bill failed to get the 60 votes necessary to advance it, after furious, last-minute opposition by the White House.
Yep, that’s right: Collins opposes a bill that’ll actually prevent the Trump administration from doing very thing she admits is traumatizing to children, in favor of a compromise that has already failed—because Trump opposed it.
“It is incumbent on members of the Senate of both parties to take a moral stand and not resort to hand wringing rhetoric,” Portland, ME activist Susie Crimmins told the Press Herald. “It is spin. She wants to say she is concerned and yet she is not willing to step out in front and do what is necessary to stop it.”
Collins has been in the Senate for twenty-one years, so she knows how politics works. This is the great moral issue of our time; supporting a bill that already failed over that actually has a chance of passing and would rectify the problem—especially considering Republicans are reportedly bracing for the possibility that the policy will cost them their seats in November—is nothing short of complicity and cowardice.