VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons, on CNN yesterday with Wolf Blitzer to discuss child separation and rule of law.
“President Trump may want to spin this issue up further for his own campaign purposes. He may want to describe immigrants in very negative and critical terms. But he should not be allowed to undermine the rule of law and to suggest that he alone has the ability to decide who does and doesn’t get rights and get to appear before a judge before they are removed,” said Coons.
On President Trump’s proposal:
Our President is not a king. He cannot simply wipe away the due process rights of folks once they’re in the United States in American detention. They do have habeas corpus rights, they do have due process rights. That’s something decided by courts under our Constitution, not by President Trump.
I frankly think this is where having an independent judiciary that defends the rule of law is an important underpinning of our constitutional order.
President Trump may want to spin this issue up further for his own campaign purposes. He may want to describe immigrants in very negative and critical terms. But he should not be allowed to undermine the rule of law and to suggest that he alone has the ability to decide who does and doesn’t get rights and get to appear before a judge before they are removed. I’ll remind you, many of the folks who come to this country illegally are seeking a better life for their kids and end up not being able to stay here after a court hearing. Some are presenting with legitimate claims of a fear of persecution, are fleeing violence in another country, and they end up being able to stay here, because they have an asylum claim under law. That should be decided by a judge, not at the whim of a President or a political party.
On his Republican colleagues:
I do think it’s important for my Republican colleagues to clarify, especially since there are so many senators who are lawyers and who understand these core issues. Frankly, I think Americans get this in their gut. This isn’t the sort of thing that President Trump gets to decide in a tweet.
It’s been decided over centuries by our independent judiciary as they interpret and apply the constitution that is the foundation of our country. A lot of what distinguishes the United States from other countries is that we have a rule of law here and it doesn’t bend at the whim of any particular President.
On the Trump administration:
Well, this is a problem of President Trump’s creation. I intend to work with my colleagues here to hold him accountable for using the capabilities of the executive branch to reunite these children now that he signed an executive order and maybe public pronouncements that they would end the forcible separation of children from their parents as a cruel tool for their immigration policy. I think I will simply use the phrase trust but verify. We will hold them accountable for getting this job done.
More on the border crisis:
This is a very murky situation right now. That’s why I have called for hearings on the Judiciary Committee on which I serve so that we can have clarity about both the affect and interpretation of this executive order, which flies in the face of a long-settled court agreement that says that juveniles shouldn’t be held in detention more than 20 days.
And so that we can explore whether there aren’t more humane, cost-effective, and appropriate means of ensuring families with children, if released in the United States, pending a future hear, can in fact be made to return for that hearing. There have been trial programs that have succeeded in getting more than 90%, close to 100% of those who are released in the United States to return for their court hearing on time. I think that’s the sort of thing we should be looking at in the Judiciary Committee.
The challenge here is that President Trump has moved from hopefully, a cruel policy of separating children from their parents as a tool of immigration policy to an approach that says, let’s detain indefinitely parents and children together.
Given how long it takes for an asylum case to be heard here in the United States, it will take months, even years to get the number of immigration judges up to develop or build appropriate facilities for this indefinite detention. Many Democrats, myself included, have been asking whether that is wise or humane.
Let me remind you, despite President Trump’s tweets suggesting that Democrats support open borders, that legislation that I co-sponsored and fought for five years ago, legislation I co-sponsored and fought for earlier this year, would invest tens of billions of dollars in border security in a responsible path forward to secure our borders yet treat those who come here seeking asylum or refuge humanely and in a way that respects our law. Democrats are committed to solving this problem. President Trump, in my view, recently, has been blowing it up for largely political purposes.
On Rep. Maxine Waters:
Frankly, I think our country is strongest and best when we respect each other. I understand how there are folks who have gotten very upset and very agitated and motivated in opposition to the ways in which President Trump has used the bully pulpit and his Twitter skills to bully people and to marginalize the press and those who might seek rule of law or exercise free speech in this country.
I frankly disagree with Congresswoman Waters. I don’t think we’re at our strongest or best whether we simply pay back hate speech with hate speech, when we further inflame disrespect for each other. I think it’s important that we try to maintain civility as we also express strongly our disagreement with President Trump and his administration’s policies.