Congressman Mark Green, a Tennessee Republican, said that he does not believe families should be separated at the southern border, breaking with former President Trump who refused to rule out reimplementing family separations if reelected.
While speaking to CNN anchor Dana Bash on Sunday Green, chair of the House Homeland Security committee, said, “Families should not be separated. If you look at HR 2 it’s very clear we’re not separating families.”
House Republicans passed their proposed fix to the ongoing wave of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, voting 219-213 along strict party lines on the day Title 42 expired. The immigration policy, an order installed under President Donald Trump, allowed the U.S. to turn away migrants at the border under the belief that they would exacerbate the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trump administration also launched a pilot program to separate parents from their children in the El Paso border sector in Texas in July 2017. It more broadly launched the “zero-tolerance” policy the following April.
Under the policy, immigrant families that were apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally were separated, and the parents were placed in detention after being criminally prosecuted. Most were deported from the U.S. without their children. The children were held in federally run shelters, in some cases for more than a year, before being reunited with their parents, or released to other relatives, family friends or placed in foster care.
Center for Immigration Studies Fellow Todd Bensman told Newsweek on Sunday, “It never was zero-tolerance [previously]. They never separated families under Bush or Obama. What Trump did was roll in family units, that was a political loser.”
“That was two straight months of political back and forth,” Bensman continued.
While speaking at CNN’s Townhall on Wednesday about these separations, Trump was directly asked if he would reimplement that policy if he was president. Trump responded, “We have to save our country.”
Anchor Kaitlan Collins quickly followed up saying, “It sounds like that’s a yes.” Trump responded, “When you say to a family that if you come, we’re going to break you up, they don’t come.”
Ahead of Title 42’s expiration, President Joe Biden sent 1,500 troops to the border to help with a previously expected surge. Along with those troops, Texas Governor Greg Abbott deployed the new Texas Tactical Border Force to border “hotspots” in a bid to repel illegal crossings.
Abbott has remained a fierce critic of Biden, this week calling his response to Title 42’s expiration “chaos.” Taking to Twitter on Friday Abbott said, “Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers held the line against a possible surge in illegal crossings when the Biden Administration pulled Border Patrol agents.”
“Biden has abandoned his responsibility to secure the border. Texas continues to fill the gaps,” Abbott concluded.
While speaking about his experience being in Matamoros, Mexico this week Bensman added that immigrants are in a “confused pause” since the expiration of Title 42. He also agreed with the Biden Administration’s assessment that there will be a surge of migrants attempting to cross the border.
“The mass surge will be delayed…there most definitely are leaks that will be discovered. I don’t think the Biden Administration is wrong in anticipating the mass surge. They shouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief,” Bensman said.
This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. ET with Todd Bensman’s comments.