PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Separating children from their parents when families cross the border illegally or seek asylum has riveted the nation with politicians chiming in.
“Children should not be separated from their parents,” says U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, a Sewickley Republican, who seems at odds with President Trump’s zero tolerance program that separates children from their parents.
But Rothfus is cautious.
“We want to be very careful. We want to make sure that the kids who are coming here are actually with their parents. We know that we’ve had trafficking issues along the border. We want to make sure that kids are kept safe,” Rothfus said on Monday.
His Democratic colleague, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Forest Hills, is more blunt.
“I think the policy’s abhorrent. It’s un-American. It’s possibly illegal and unconstitutional,” Doyle told KDKA political editor Jon Delano. “Many of these families are out there with their children seeking asylum. It’s not against the law to seek asylum.”
And Doyle is outraged the President blames Democrats when Republicans control Congress.
“Well, he knows that’s a lie,” says Doyle. “There is nothing in the law that requires this. These kids are being separated from their parents for one reason and one reason alone. It’s President Trump’s zero tolerance policy.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, a Butler Republican, did not return calls and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a Mt. Lebanon Democrat, was unavailable to discuss the issue, but Lamb’s office did issue a statement saying separating children was “wrong and cruel.”
On radio in Erie, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, said the issue was “complicated” and compared it to a woman being jailed for a crime.
“If a woman in Pennsylvania breaks the law, commits a crime, and is arrested and prosecuted, her children do not go into her prison cell with her,” Toomey said.
But Toomey said if the President could legally keep families together, he should.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, was also unavailable, but in a statement called on the President to stop “the inhumane and cruel practice of ripping migrant children away from their parents.”
While Democrats and some Republicans say President Trump can easily fix this problem without legislation, lawmakers tell KDKA a bill be introduced on Tuesday.
Called the Keep Families Together Act, the bill would prohibit the Department of Homeland Security and immigration officials from separating children from their parents unless parental rights have been terminated or human trafficking is suspected.