WASHINGTON – Florida Republicans are coming out against President Donald Trump's policy of separating immigrant children from adults at the border.
Democrats have universally opposed the practice. Here is what Republicans have said:
Sen. Marco Rubio, Miami
"The current situation at the border is the result of a choice between the only two options current law and federal court mandates allow: The Obama administration approach of releasing adults who illegally entered with children, which turned our border into a magnet for illegal immigration and traffickers looking to exploit vulnerable migrants; and the current approach of detaining parents, which divides families – something everyone says they want to avoid. Neither is an acceptable approach. Therefore, Congress must act to legally allow families to be held together pending their hearing, and to provide funding for the creation of family facilities and for expediting the process of adjudicating illegal entry and asylum. While this third option is not perfect, it is far better than incentivizing future illegal immigration or separating children from their parents."
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Palm Harbor
"I believe families should stay intact, and that children should always be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity. The safety of children who have been brought to our country, regardless of circumstances, is of paramount concern. I also believe in the rule of law which is why I look forward to working on changing this law and addressing other immigration issues this week."
Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Miami
"That's an issue of great concern to me. And we're still looking for ways to do more to keep families together in this legislation" the House is considering.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, Sarasota
"Children should not be separated from their parents at the border. Enforce the laws, secure the border, keep families together during the review process and expedite the judicial ruling."
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Miami
"It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents. Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable. We cannot allow for this to continue happening, and it must stop. I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the provision included in this week's immigration bill puts an end to this cruel practice."
Rep. Ron DeSantis, Palm Coast
"I'd keep the family together and repatriate them back as a family unit. … If you do an asylum claim, you're supposed to go to a recognized port of entry. These (immigrants) are not at the recognized ports of entry. They're basically illegally crossing."
Rep. Neal Dunn, Panama City
"Dr. Dunn is very concerned with the reports of children being separated from parents at the border. We expect that the House will take up legislation that will ensure that any accompanied children apprehended at the border will not be separated from their parent or guardian while in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Dunn will continue to work with President Trump and his colleagues in the House to resolve this problem."
Matt Gaetz, Fort Walton Beach
Rep. Bill Posey, Rockledge
Rep. Tom Rooney, Okeechobee
"Congressman Rooney does not support separating children from their families. However, this is the Trump administration's policy on how to handle and interpret the law, so it is up to the Trump administration to change that.
Rep. Francis Rooney, Naples
"I am in favor of significant changes to our immigration, visa and asylum systems – and have sponsored or co-sponsored several bills to address this – bills which secure our border, more quickly adjudicate asylum seekers, introduce skills-based immigration, and end chain migration. Regarding the separation of children crossing illegally with their parents – children should be kept with their families, detained as a family if crossing illegally, and then directed back across the border. I support the legislation proposed by Senator Ted Cruz, which would: Double the number of federal immigration judges; Authorize new temporary shelters with accommodations to keep families together; Mandate that families be kept together, absent aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children; Provide for expedited processing and review of asylum cases so that – within 14 days – those who meet the legal standards will be granted asylum and those who do not will be immediately returned to their home countries. Any solution to these issues should be paid for with currently appropriated and allocated funds and not increased government spending."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Miami
"Separating families at the border is a cruel policy that needlessly subjects both parents and children to emotional and psychological harm. President Trump has chosen to implement this policy and he can put an end to it but he chooses to not do so and instead blames others."
Rep. Dennis Ross, Lakeland
"As a father, Rep. Ross is deeply concerned about the separation of immigrant families apprehended illegally crossing the border and he is calling for Congress to enact an immigration reform package to address this matter. He looks forward to passing legislation that keeps families together, provides certainty for DACA recipients, and strengthens security on our southern border."
Rep. John Rutherford, Jacksonville
"The most important duty of our law enforcement officers, whether in Jacksonville or along our southern border, is to keep innocent lives safe, especially those of children. The recent influx of children and families crossing our southern border has made a hard job harder for our law enforcement offers tasked with keeping illegal, and often dangerous, people out of our country.
"Since there has been some misunderstanding over what the law requires, I am pleased to see that the House intends to take up legislation this week to clarify the issue of separating families. The bill requires that a child must not be separated from their parent or legal guardian while in DHS custody. While this is an important change, it falls on the federal government to verify the family members to ensure that we are not subjecting these children to trafficking and coercion at our border.
"I am also pleased to see that the House will debate legislation containing much-needed funding to build a wall, barriers, and other resources at our southern border to stop illegal border crossings from happening in the first place. We will also consider important improvements to our legal immigration system to encourage people to enter our country through legal channels.
"We are a country of laws, and anyone who wants to come to our country must adhere to those laws. While I believe that as a just and moral nation, we have a responsibility to treat every human in our custody with dignity and respect, it is time that we stop incentivizing illegal entrance across our borders and fix the broken immigration system that encourages people to make dangerous and deadly trips north to our border."
Rep. Ted Yoho, Gainesville
Rep. Dan Webster, Clermont
"As a father and grandfather, my heart breaks at the thought of children separated from their parents. No one wants to see a child removed from the loving arms of their parents. Our laws provide protections for individuals seeking asylum who come to a port of entry – instead of attempting illegal crossing. Those who come legally requesting asylum are NOT detained because they are not charged with the crime of illegally crossing the border. Adults apprehended for illegally crossing the border are charged with that crime and, President Trump's administration recently announced that their asylum claims would be promptly adjudicated. The Trump administration has sent more judges and prosecutors to our border to process these claims as swiftly as possible and deport those who do not have valid asylum claims. During this adjudication, the Border Patrol detains the adults who are charged with the crime of illegally crossing the border, but they cannot hold children in their custody under the law. In the same way that laws across our states require that if parents are arrested and no family member exists to care for their child, the son or daughter is placed in the state's child welfare system."
The Tampa Bay Times asked all Republican House members for their position, but some of these responses are drawn from Twitter and comments given to other news outlets. Rep. Ron DeSantis gave remarks Monday during a campaign event in Bradenton.