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Colorado lawmakers react to Trump dumping border policy

Author: Joey Bunch - June 21, 2018 - Updated: June 21, 2018

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, stand in line at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

Colorado lawmakers are weighing in on President Donald Trump’s decision to end a policy of dividing families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending the detainment measure that was part of his zero-tolerance policy on border security. Republicans facing tough mid-term elections, including U.S. Reps. Mike Coffman of Aurora, a Republican, and Ed Perlmutter of Arvada, a Democrat, were opposed the controversial practice that separated about 2,000 children from their parents, some of whom were seeking lawful asylum.

In a late Wednesday statement, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette said the public pressure on Trump shouldn’t let up and that more must be done on immigration.

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Denver, Wednesday evening called the family separations a “self-inflicted crisis.”

“Precipitous, highly-politicized policies like this one come at an enormous human cost,” Bennet said in a statement. “A photo opportunity is not a resolution. A mobilization of real resources and a comprehensive plan to reunite all of these children is the only solution that meets the standard of American values.”

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez, tweeted his opposition to the Trump administration’s policy, enacted by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April.

“I believe in border security & support a zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration, but I do not support separating children from their parents at the border. The Administration should take action to allow families to remain together while the parents’ cases are decided,” Tipton tweeted. “I recently signed onto a letter w/some of my colleagues to be sent to DHS, that expresses disapproval of the current policy of separating families & requests additional information on what is being done when a family arrives at the border in-between a legal port of entry.”

Two of Tipton’s Democratic opponents in the 3rd Congressional District, Karl Hanlon and Diane Mitsch Bush, criticized the incumbent’s slow response.

“Scott Tipton, after nearly two weeks of watching and doing nothing, is finally reversing course on the humanitarian crisis taking place on our southern border,” Hanlon stated. “Unfortunately, in true Tipton fashion, he’s barely able to do the right thing. Rather than standing up and taking action, he’s joined a letter with colleagues to the Department of Homeland Security expressing ‘disapproval’ and requesting ‘additional information.’ Congressman, we don’t need your disapproval or more information. This is one of the moral issues of our time, and you’ve failed yet again. In Washington, I’ll stand up to Donald Trump and fight for change because that’s what Colorado deserves.”

Mitsch Bush sent out an email blast to her supporters,

“Today, the President and Scott Tipton seemly changed their minds, likely in response to the overwhelming outcry against this policy,” she wrote. “President Trump signed an executive order apparently ending the separation of families attempting to cross the border into the United States,. HOWEVER, it looks like this executive order is another PR stunt by the White House that fails to actually address the issue.”

DeGette said the U.S. should seize the moment to commit to refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

“Lately, our country has been creating a refugee crisis of our own,” she said in a statement. “It’s a relief that the president has just signed an executive order that will finally suspend his ‘zero-tolerance’ policy of separating families who arrive at our borders without documentation, including those who are seeking asylum from horrendous circumstances in their homelands.

“Now these families will no longer be ripped apart, but warehousing them in detention centers is no solution. Americans have placed tremendous pressure on the Trump Administration to the disgrace of family separation; we must keep it up to ensure that children are reunited with their parents in humane circumstances.”

DeGette, House Democrats’ chief deputy whip, said Congress should continue to try to pass Democrats’ long-shot Keep Families Together Act, which goes further than the president’s order and puts the policy into law. Bennet was one of 48 co-sponsors of the Senate bill.

She, Perlmutter and Rep. Jared Polis are among 190 Democrats co-sponsoring of the House version of the same bill.

Besides ending the separation policy, the Keep Families Together Act would also restrict the prosecution of asylum-seekers and establish procedures so families could locate each other if they become separated, and stay together. It would also provide child-welfare training to border-patrol officers.

“We need to fix our immigration system in a way that creates American jobs, strengthens our border and provides undocumented Americans an earned pathway to citizenship,” Perlmutter stated.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.