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Hatch asks for suspension of family separation policy while Utah Reps work to pass bill

WASHINGTON D.C. — Politicians are scrambling on the federal level to find a new solution at the U.S./Mexico border, and bring an end to the separation of families. Senator Orrin Hatch and 12 other Senators are calling for a “pause” on the zero tolerance policy, while Utah House Republicans still hope to pass an immigration bill within the week.


In this June 13, 2018 photo, Nicole Hernandez, of the Mexican state of Guerrero, holds on to her mother as they wait with other families to request political asylum in the United States, across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. The family has waited for about a week in this Mexican border city, hoping for a chance to escape widespread violence in their home state. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

House of Representatives

Today top House Republicans met with President Donald Trump to discuss a house bill that tackles immigration on a broader spectrum.

“I would call it an upbeat meeting,” said Congressman John Curtis, R. “He was very clear that not only did he want us to pass it, but that he would sign it and be very vocal about it.”

Representative Mia Love also spoke positively about the meeting, in a statement released Tuesday.

“Tonight, I received assurance from the President about his support for a permanent fix for DACA recipients,” she said. “The goal of any immigration reform should reflect our commitment to family, national defense, community and compassion.”

Congressman Chris Stewart, R, floated an idea, Monday, to outfit parents trying to cross the border with GPS ankle bracelets so the government can ensure adults will attend their immigration hearings without splitting up families. Today he said that idea is more of a plan B, just in case they can’t change the court orders that require children to be held separately from their parents.

“I don’t like the idea of putting monitors on parents, but I like that a lot better than separating them,” Stewart said.

He’s confident they’ll pass a broad immigration bill in the house this week.

“For every problem there comes a period in time when the emotion, when the work, when the public support kind of all coalesce together and it allows you to do things you haven’t been able to do before. I believe that is the time for us now,” Stewart said.

Senate

The Utah Senate doesn’t want to wait for the House bill.

Today Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, R, signed his name alongside 12 other senators in a letter asking the Department of Justice to put a pause on the current Immigration Policy.

“Like millions of Americans, we have read with increasing alarm reports of children being separated from their parents at the southern border,” the letter said. “We support the administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents. We therefore ask you to halt implementation of the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally without requiring the forced, inhumane separation of children from their parents.”

Matt Whitlock, Deputy Chief of Staff for Hatch, said the Senator has been in talks for a couple of weeks trying to decide the best way to approach the problem, but worried a good solution would take too long.

“While Congress takes the time to get this right he doesn’t want to see another several hundred families get separated down at the border,” Whitlock said. “It goes against the values he believes in both as a Utahn and just as an American.”

When asked why the Senator waited this long to act, Whitlock blamed the delay on bad communication between the President’s administration and the Senate.

“I think a lot of Republican Senators would say they didn’t understand the full picture, the magnitude, of what was happening there until just really the last few weeks,” Whitlock said. “One of the challenges for Republicans in the Senate and house has been not getting a clear picture from our administration.”

Whitlock said the 13 senators that signed Hatch’s letter are asking the Department of Justice to rewind the clock back to April, before the “zero tolerance” policy went into effect.

“When Congress rushes legislation they tend to not do it right,” Whitlock said. “He would just really like to take that pressure off.”

Stewart says he’d like to support the letter, but thinks Hatch is approaching the problem in the wrong way.

“All it does is wave a magic wand and say here’s the law and we’re just going to ignore the law,” Stewart said. “I am not comfortable with that. I think the preferred solution is let’s change the law.”