Several Democratic lawmakers visited facilities along the Texas-Mexico border where children are being held without their parents Monday and blasted President Donald Trump for a "zero tolerance" policy allowing it to happen.
"The United States is a better nation than this, should be a better nation than this," said San Antonio Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro.
He said Democrats are working to end the separation of families.
"Over the last few weeks, especially, members of Congress have been asked the question what are you doing to stop this? Some of us have filed legislation. Others are supporting legislation to stop it," Castro added.
President Donald Trump said Democrats have the power to end this while defending the policy and calling for immigration reform.
We asked Dallas Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson about the president saying the Democrats are to blame.
"I am not surprised. He blames somebody else for everything," she said. "I think we could do a better job if we had the ability to be listened to in terms of coming together."
The U.S. House is hoping to vote this week on two immigration bills. One has billions of dollars for the border wall the president wants as well as a path to citizenship for dreamers brought here as children.
"The short solution is Democrats and Republicans working together. We could fix this in 24 hours," said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
We reached out to Texas lawmakers about the policy and what they think should be done. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX 33rd District), put the blame squarely on the president.
"It is an atrocity that families are being torn apart at our borders and in my state of Texas. Make no mistake, this is happening because of a 'zero tolerance' policy initiated by President Trump and Attorney General Sessions. They have attempted to spin this policy into a political battle, but it's not. It's their desperate attempt to demoralize communities who are seeking a fresh start from violence and danger in their home countries. This is an abhorrent policy, and I will continue working to put an end to family separation, and ensure this does not become our new normal. We need real longlasting immigration reform and protection for our DREAMers and active duty service members and veterans who have fought for our country. Trump will not win by demoralizing these communities and abolishing their patriotism. America's diversity and ability to be a sanctuary from violence is what makes our country great. I will be working around the clock in Congress to find a bipartisan solution for these men, women and children."
And we also heard from a spokesperson from Congressman Pete Sessions' office on this issue, which said the following:
"Congressman Sessions obviously does not want actual families to be separated. The Democrat talking points on this issue ignore important facts: Many of these children are NOT with their parents, instead they are being trafficked by drug cartels and human smugglers who are trying to gain access to our country; Rescuing these children from human traffickers is the most humane thing we can do; and it is documented that many of the girls who are turned over to these human traffickers never even reach the United States instead, they are forced into sex slavery to serve the drug cartels. It is shameful the Democrats continue to stand for broken policies that allow the lives of these children to be destroyed by the drug cartels, human traffickers, and the sex slave trade. Congressman Sessions is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to better understand the nature of this recent wave of illegal immigration and learn how we can best care for these innocent children."
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said late Monday afternoon he planned to introduce emergency legislation that would keep immigrant families together while guaranteeing expedited hearings with immigration judges within 72 hours who would either grant asylum or initiate the deportation process to complete within 14 days.
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX 6th District), of Ennis, said this is a sad situation but some parents use children as insurance in order to stay.
“They bring their children with them, sort of as insurance. They claim political persecution, which entitles them to a hearing before a federal magistrate. They bring their children knowing they can only be held for 20 days. If they have not had their hearing by then, they can be released into the country basically on their own recognizance,” said Barton.
Monday afternoon, Bishop Edward J. Burns with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas released the following statement on migrant children being separated from their families.
At a recent event with civic and religious leaders in the city, Mayor Mike Rawlings referred to Dallas as a city with a soul. I believe that the members of this community, whether believers or non-believers, and all people of goodwill throughout the country, are heartbroken at the news of immigrant children being separated from their families after an arduous journey to what their families believed would be a start to a better life. In light of these recent events taking place along our southern border, I have asked the members of the Catholic community to join me in prayer for these families and for their swift reunion with family members, especially the young ones who need the presence and love of their mothers and fathers. This past weekend I convened an urgent meeting of our diocesan immigration task force in order to determine what we can do to assist in this situation. We are in the early stages of learning how we can help. Knowing that we are 'one nation under God', I have no doubt that our Heavenly Father hears the cries of these children. Recognizing that we are all made in His image, we are prompted to respond to this situation with love, compassion, and mercy. It is my prayer that our legislators and lawmakers will do the same - and do so quickly - in order to alleviate the unjust pain and suffering occurring at our borders.
Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX 12th District) shared the following statement with NBC 5 on Tuesday afternoon.
"People in my District are very concerned about this issue. There needs to be a better way to secure our borders. These children did not make the choice to cross the border and shouldn't be punished for it. I have been working with House Republican leadership to resolve this in a way that protects our borders and our values. I am also looking forward to meeting with President Trump tonight and hearing the administration's perspective. I am hopeful that this week the House will pass a bill that keeps families together, strengthens our borders, and reforms our broken immigration system."
Also on Tuesday, the office of Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX 25th District) shared his position with NBC 5.
"Children brought illegally into the United States continue to be the greatest victims of failed immigration policies. No one wants to see this. America is a compassionate nation, and those wishing to have a piece of the American Dream should be willing to start by following our laws. It’s time to finally pass legislation that makes our country safer and stronger, and that starts with securing our borders.”
An official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told NBC News Monday the department has 11,785 minors in its care, 2,000 of whom the Associated Press said have been separated from their families.