The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday called for laws to be changed in order to not separate migrant children from their families at the border.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure that we have the ability when parents show up with their children to let the children stay with the parents,” Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte said in an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.”
He added that the “law needs to be changed” and that “every effort needs to be made to take care of children when they’re separated from their parents.”
At least 2,300 children have been separated from their families at the border since the Department of Homeland Security implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy, which the Trump administration claims can only be changed by Congress.
Goodlatte said Tuesday that children should not be kept from their families, though he says he does not believe it constitutes child abuse.
“I think that the message should go to people in Central America and elsewhere in the world that there are better ways to apply for asylum in the United States than to come across the border illegally,” Goodlatte told CNN, adding, “Shame on parents who bring their children across a desert to try to get into the United States illegally.”
Congress has been working to find a solution as outrage grows over the policy. Republicans have tied the family separation issue to two House bills on immigration they’re considering this week.
Goodlatte’s proposed bill and another more moderate compromise bill both include a provision aimed at allowing children to remain with their families after they are apprehended at the border and in custody of the Department of Homeland Security, though the solution that Republicans have offered is to overturn a court settlement that has long been in the administration’s crosshairs that would allow children to be detained indefinitely alongside their parents.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he will introduce legislation this week that would mandate that kids stay with parents, expedite immigration proceedings, and require asylum cases be heard within 72 hours and decided within two weeks.
Goodlatte would not say Tuesday whether he would vote for Cruz’s bill or something similar.
President Donald Trump will meet with Republicans Tuesday on Capitol Hill as the House of Representatives prepares to hold major votes on the two different immigration bills.
CNN’s Tal Kopan, Ashley Killough, Lauren Fox and Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.