Family Separation Puts Congressional Republicans In ‘Such A Conundrum’

“They may not like this policy but, if you remember, only a week ago Mark Sanford of South Carolina lost his primary because Donald Trump essentially made him a marked man.”

By Rhonda FanningJune 19, 2018 2:12 pm| ,

The entire country is looking at Texas – and this time it’s what’s happening to families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border that has placed the Lone Star State at the center of national outrage. Traditional political lines, even in Texas, are starting to blur. There are at least three Texas lawmakers on Capitol Hill – Democrats and Republicans – now pushing legislation aimed at ending the separation of families taken into custody for illegally crossing into the United States.

Abby Livingston, the Washington bureau chief for the Texas Tribune, says Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal would provide more resources to adjudicate asylum cases.

“Which means bringing in judges so that these situations are resolved within 14 days,” she says. “But also he suggested building more centers to support these families and not separate them. This was significant not because of the policy, but because it was Ted Cruz. That was sort of a collective ‘whoa’ moment, that even Ted Cruz was willing to cross the administration on this.”

Livingston says that Texas Sen. John Cornyn, as the Senate majority whip, should be expected to be the quarterback on this legislation, not Cruz.

“He’s the higher ranking senator and he has the better relationships among Republicans to move something,” she says.

In November, Cruz will face Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, who has been an effective spokesman on this issue, despite being a member of the minority party, Livingston says.

“I don’t know the specifics on policies on what Democrats are proposing,” she says, “because Democrats really are not in the driver’s seat on this, even though the president is trying to place the blame on them.”

O’Rourke led a demonstration over the weekend to protest a detention center for immigrant children who are separated from their parents.

“Additionally, there’s a congressman in south Texas named Vicente Gonzalez. He hosted a number of high-profile members of Congress – House members and senators,” she says. “The Democratic strategy more than anything is just to keep the attention on the border. And I have not seen in a very long time the capital as engulfed on an issue as I’ve seen in the last two days with this issue.”

Livingston says most Texas Republicans in Congress are staying silent about family separation, with notable exceptions like Cruz, Cornyn, and Rep. Will Hurd.

“Republicans are in such a conundrum because they may not like this policy but, if you remember, only a week ago Mark Sanford of South Carolina lost his primary because Donald Trump essentially made him a marked man. And he’s not returning to Congress. So that is a warning shot to everyone in the Republican conference.”

Written by Jen Rice.