Indiana lawmakers respond to child separation policy while others stay silent

WASHINGTON – The U.S. government released new video Monday showing conditions inside a border patrol facility as the outcry, finger-pointing and defense of a Trump administration policy intensified.

“I say it very strongly,” President Trump said. “It’s the Democrats’ fault.”

The policy has resulted in the separation of thousands of kids from their parents who have crossed the border illegally. On Monday the president doubled-down in his blame on Democrats.

“There is just no truth to that at all,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said. “President Bush didn’t do this. President Obama didn’t do this. This was a decision by the administration.”

FOX 59 also asked members of Indiana’s Republican delegation representing Central Indiana whether they support the policy – including Representatives Jim Banks, Susan Brooks, Trey Hollingsworth, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita and Sen. Todd Young.

“As a father, what is happening on the southern border is very concerning to me,” Banks told FOX 59 in a statement Monday afternoon.

“As a father, what is happening on the southern border is very concerning to me. We must ensure that families are reunited as quickly as possible while adhering to the rule of law. Ultimately, this situation shows why it is imperative that we increase border security to curtail illegal border crossings. I believe it’s possible for Congress to come together and pass a solution that fixes our broken immigration system, secures our borders, and increases enforcement to reduce illegal immigration.”

As of late Monday afternoon, Hollingsworth and Messer had yet to respond.

“Most Republican members of Indiana’s congressional delegation have been unconscionably silent amid this outrage,” Indy Star columnist Tim Swarens wrote in a column published Monday afternoon.

In a statement to FOX 59 Monday afternoon, Rokita echoed the president in blaming Democrats.

“Once again the liberal elite and media are driving a divisive and false binary narrative over illegal immigration. The fact of the matter is there are legal ways to enter our country, and we cannot incentivize and reward parents who are willing to break our laws and threaten their children’s well-being by illegally crossing our borders. I am willing to work with President Trump and my Congressional colleagues to establish common-sense immigration laws, but in order to do so, the Democrats need to come to the negotiating table instead of advocating for free and open borders that endanger families in the process.”

“This has been building, brewing for several weeks now,” Swarens said in an interview. “And I think it reached a crescendo over the weekend.”

Young, in a statement, said the government “must make sure to reunite families expeditiously.”

“It is a moral imperative to ensure the safety and well-being of children, and the government must make sure to reunite families expeditiously.  Our immigration system has been broken for far too long. We must solve this humanitarian and national security problem once and for all – as I have voted to do. As a Marine who used to work on border security issues, Hoosiers know that I will continue to fight for a real solution.”

And Brooks said she is actively working with colleagues on a solution.

“I am committed to working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House as Congress works to fix our broken immigration system.  We need an immigration system that supports a secure southern border while remaining compassionate, fair and efficient. After arresting and processing those who enter our country illegally, we should find ways to keep families together. Congress must provide adequate resources to all immigration related agencies in order to reduce the backlog and move these individuals and families through the immigration adjudication process expeditiously.”

Donnelly, who is facing re-election in November, joined all Senate Democrats Monday in backing the “Keep Families Together Act,” a bill writing by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that is intended to limit the separation of families.

“Option one – the president has a chance to change this policy,” Donnelly said. “Option two – each of the respective houses of Congress can move legislation forward.”

Donnelly’s opponent Republican businessman Mike Bruan placed the responsibility on Congress in a statement issued by his spokesman Josh Kelley.

“Mike Braun believes politicians have failed to fix our broken immigration system, and just like President Trump, he doesn’t want to see families separated, and he believes Congress needs to step up and address this problem and secure our border.”