Republican lawmakers fighting to maintain their majorities in Congress after November’s midterms are scrambling for a solution to a problem they see as a political loser: existing laws that allow border crossing children to be separated from their parents.
“I would say that none of this reflects well on Congress or the administration in terms of our inability to solve the problem,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
If the GOP majority paves the way for a legislative fix to the polarizing immigration policy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., believes the midterm impact will be minimal.
“It’s not going to tar anybody,” McConnell said Tuesday. “We’re going to fix the problem.”
But there’s a problem with that.
Democratic leaders doing their best to retake the Senate and House don’t want to help the party in power pass a new law that ends the ongoing crisis at the border.
“There are so many obstacles to legislation,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday. “When the president can do it with his own pen, it makes no sense.”
That strategy of simply making Republicans sweat as pressure builds isn’t sitting well with one vulnerable Democrat trying to win re-election in a state President Trump easily won.
“I disagree with Chuck, and Chuck knows that,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said. “You always negotiate. We’re here to fix things, we’re not here to make it worse.”
As images of migrant children detained at the border spread further and further this weekend, and the issue came to a political boil, a Quinnipiac poll found that while just 7 percent of Democratic voters support separating border-crossing parents from their kids, 24 percent of independents support the policy, and 55 percent of Republicans do, too.
Now one Republican candidate hoping to challenge Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., this fall believes the latest back and forth on immigration policy opens up Democrats to new lines of criticism on the campaign trail.
“She’s gone around the country advocating for sanctuary cities,” Beth Lindstrom, the GOP hopeful, said about Warren. “She’s giving false hope to these families, and so they’re making this terrible journey, and she’s giving them the idea that they can find sanctuary in Massachusetts – and that’s wrong.”
But a top democratic surrogate this election cycle believes that this issue is too traumatic to be included in talks about flipping seats – for now.
“We shouldn’t be talking about that honestly,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said. “This is a time we should not be engaging in politics, we should not be thinking about election consequences.”