All three of Montana’s delegates in Washington, D.C. said they oppose the Trump Administration’s strategy of separating families at the border. But they disagree on how to move forward to change that practice.
Democratic Senator Jon Tester maintains a specific bill isn’t even necessary to keep those families together.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security could stop it, (U.S. Attorney General Jeff) Sessions could stop it, they could stop it, and it would be stopped within minutes. But, assuming they’re not going to do that let’s stay here Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday - however long it takes to get this stopped. I’m telling you, our phones are lighting up - and they should be - over this issue. Montanans are not happy," Tester said.
Although Tester says a specific bill isn't necessary to end this policy he is co-sponsoring the Keeping Families Together Act, a bill brought by Sen. Feinstein which seeks to limit the separation of families at or near ports of entry.
Daines supports legislation from Ted Cruz that he says would double the number of immigration judges to expedite asylum cases, keep families together and create more temporary shelters for families to wait for their day in court.
"We need to stop this practice of separating children from their parents, and there's a solution we're proposing that would do that but it also would make sure we'd secure our borders and uphold the rule of law, as well as keep families together," Daines said.
Gianforte said he’ll support a bill that touches on four points.
"First securing the border. Modifying the visa lottery, going more to a merit-based system. Adjusting chain migration that favors nuclear families - that’s one of the things we’re going to do to bring kids together with their parents. And then resolving the whole DREAMERS situation. Those are the four pillars the President laid out. I support them," Gianforte said.
More than 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the southern U.S. border since the Trump Administration instituted its new strategy in May, according to the Department of Homeland Security
Both chambers of Congress are scrambling this week to pass a bill to address what Daines calls a humanitarian crisis, but it’s unclear which measure, if any, will gain enough support.
There are protests scheduled at the Missoula County Jail and Kalispell’s Depot Park Wednesday organized by Montanans for Immigrant Justice and Love Lives Here.
[Update: 10:45 a.m., 6/20/18: This post was updated to add that Sen. Tester is co-sponsoring the Keeping Families Together Act]