Coons: “It's my hope that everyone takes a moment to think about the desperation that must have been in their hearts to risk their lives and lose their lives trying to come to this country.”

Sen. Chris Coons , a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, yesterday joined Anderson Cooper to discuss U.S. immigration policy.

“We’ve seen two things change. You know, first is that this administration has frozen or cut back on funding that the previous administration had invested in stabilizing the three Northern Triangle countries-- Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador-- and that has contributed to a sense of hopelessness and increased violence and disorganization in those countries that has driven more parents to come here.

“They’ve also made the standards for applying for asylum in this country, the method and where and how, more difficult.”

On border policy:

Yeah, well I think those asylum officers are advocating for what are the real core values of our country. We have signed laws and international treaties in this country that say when people are fleeing violence and persecution, they have to have a chance to present themselves in our country and seek asylum here, rather than being held off from entering our country, and forced to stay in another country.

I think the riveting, the heart breaking, story of Oscar Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Valeria who drowned in the Rio Grande attempting to reach our country has moved a lot of people to action in recent days. And it’s my hope that everyone takes a moment to think about the desperation that must have been in their hearts to risk their lives and lose their lives trying to come to this country. I hope folks who reflect on that desperation will also recognize that these asylum officers are making a claim that is rooted in the best traditions of our country.

On what has changed in our immigration system:

That’s right. We’ve seen two things change. You know, first is that this administration has frozen or cut back on funding that the previous administration had invested in stabilizing the three Northern Triangle countries-- Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador … They’ve also made the standards for applying for asylum in this country, the method and where and how, more difficult … And then last, as your last, your previous guest pointed out painfully, we’ve now got government lawyers arguing that safe and sanitary conditions for children in our government’s custody don’t include things like beds, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes.

We’re in an Alice in Wonderland world, where some of the best of our traditions-- welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution-- are being turned on their head.

On the House and Senate immigration funding bills:

We took up both bills today in the Senate. First, we considered the House bill, which they had passed and sent over to us. I voted for it, most of my colleagues voted for it, but many Republicans voted against it, and it did not pass. We then took up the Senate version that came out of our committee, the Appropriations Committee, and I voted for that as well. And it passed. There are a few key differences, Anderson. The most important one is that the House version has tougher standards for the care and protection of children in the custody of CBP and HHS.