Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said Tuesday that his Democratic colleagues in Congress want open borders and to give migrants who enter the U.S. illegally a "get-out-of-jail-free card."
"What the Democrats are proposing is their most radical open borders lawless proposal yet," Cotton told radio host Hugh Hewitt. "Forty-nine Democrats have now supported a bill by Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) that says children at the border are literally a get-out-of-jail-free card."
Cotton was referencing the Keep Families Together Act, a bill introduced by Feinstein to stop the separation of families apprehended for crossing the border illegally. The legislation would prohibit authorities from separating children from their parents within 100 miles of the U.S. border, except for instances of abuse, neglect, or other circumstances.
The Trump administration has implemented a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal border crossings, charging all individuals who cross the border illegally with unlawful entry. People who claim to seek asylum are also charged with unlawful entry and are taken into custody until their case is processed. Federal law prevents kids from being held in the same detention facility as those charged with unlawful entry, causing border patrol agents to separate children from their families.
The change in policy has triggered bipartisan backlash.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) introduced his own legislation that would keep families together while they are processed by the Department of Homeland Security. Cotton said he has yet to see Cruz's bill and added that President Donald Trump's hands are tied.
"The Trump administration’s hands are tied by liberal judges and Democrats who have ruled over the years that children at the border can't be detained for more than 20 days," he said. "That's why when their parents bring them to the border, or just as likely, kidnap them or buy them from human traffickers to pose as parents at the border, the parent is taken into custody, the child can't be detained for more than 20 days, and therefore placed with a relative or placed in a kind of foster care."
Cotton said an amendment to the spending bill would stop the separation of families.
"All we need to do, Hugh, is overturn the so-called Flores Settlement, allow families to be held at the border, provide a little bit of extra money to the military and DHS for family housing units while those claims are adjudicated," Cotton said. "We're going to offer an amendment this week on the spending bill. It can be done promptly."
Cotton also discussed the Senate passing his amendment to keep the U.S. ban on ZTE. ZTE is a major Chinese telecommunications company that was caught illegally shipping telecommunications gear to Iran and North Korea, making false statements, and obstructing justice. The Chinese company reached a settlement in March 2017 and paid penalties totaling $1.19 billion.
"ZTE, Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies are virtual arms of the Chinese Communist Party, Hugh," Cotton said. "They are grave threats to our national security and our telecommunications infrastructure as well as the privacy of American citizens."
"So I'm very pleased that the Senate adopted the amendment I had with Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) and Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to prohibit the federal government from buying their products, from loaning or granting money to American companies that use those products, as well as put ZTE on the sanctions list," Cotton added.