Pat Toomey on border separations: Problem has been ‘exaggerated significantly’
Lawmakers across the political spectrum have spoken out about policies leading to the separation of families and detention of minors.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) appeared on Hugh Hewitt's radio show Monday to discuss the separation of families at the U.S. border, saying he believes the problem has been "exaggerated significantly."
When Hewitt, a conservative radio host, defended the issue's legitimacy, citing reports from the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC, Toomey — one of a number of Philadelphia-area lawmakers who has weighed in on the issue — followed up by stating that Congress should pass legislation to permit family-detention centers and that he was not an expert on the subject.
"This is not my area of expertise, Hugh," he said. "…Maybe this is happening with a higher frequency than I've been aware of, and it is certainly, it's just not the right thing to be doing."
Toomey was not the only local politician to speak out about the detention centers. Area lawmakers across the political spectrum have voiced their opinions. Here's what you need to know about the situation, and what local lawmakers have to say about it.
What you need to know
The Department of Homeland Security recently reported that about 2,000 minors were detained over about a six-week period, according to NPR.
There is no law stating children must be detained; however, current immigration law says adults caught trying to enter the country illegally should be prosecuted as criminals. If these adults have children with them, the children are confined while their parents await prosecution.
Jacob Soboroff, a reporter who was granted access to a detention center, described the conditions there by saying the children are "effectively" incarcerated.
President Trump has blamed Democrats for the detention; however, the "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that often leads to family separation was announced by his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, according to the Washington Post.
What Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawmakers are saying
Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a Republican from New Jersey spoke against family separation via Twitter, stating his support for a provision that would make detention illegal.
Other lawmakers were more vehement than LoBiondo. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Northeastern Pennsylvania, said he believed family separation was "cruel."
Though many voiced their opinions online, some representatives took other actions.
Rep. Albio Sires (D., N.J.) visited one of the detention centers on Sunday. Sires came to the United States from Cuba and told the New York Post that what he saw during his trip represented a different America than the one he knew when he arrived.
"It was heart-wrenching in [the detention center]. I came here when I was 11," Sires told the Post. "It is a different country than when I came here. What I saw in there was inhumane."
Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), and 39 other Democratic senators signed a letter earlier this month that demanded, "the Trump administration stop further traumatizing children and end Trump's inhumane policy of separating innocent children from their parents who cross the Southwest border seeking asylum in the United States." Casey has also been vocal about the issue on his Twitter account.