By Alisha Haridasani
President Trump again deflected blame for tearing apart families at the U.S. border and suggested deporting entire family units, as Republicans scrambled to come up with legislation to address the crisis.
“I don’t want children taken away from parents,” the president said in a broad-ranging speech at the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday.
“We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families,” he said.
The president also threatened to cut off foreign aid for all the countries “sending their people up.”
“We’re not going to give anymore aid to those countries -- why the hell should we?”
His comments came as House Republicans tried to draw up a plan to fix overall immigration policy, providing things such as a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, funding for the president's proposed border wall, and an end to the separation of families.
The administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, implemented in April by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, penalizes all adult immigrants entering the country unlawfully. Since courts have ruled in the past that children cannot be jailed, the new policy has resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their families and held at detention centers while their parents are processed.
Images of the crying children have ignited bipartisan backlash, leaving the GOP worried that the issue could cost them the midterms.
“I think there is some nervousness among some Republicans, especially among some Republicans who are a little bit loathe to agree with the president to begin with, that this is going to become a big rallying cry,” said Politico reporter Louis Nelson.
The Wall Street Journal, a right-leaning publication, released an editorial on Tuesday bashing what the paper calls an “election-year nightmare.”
“Are Republicans trying to lose their majorities in Congress this November?” the op-ed read. It called for an immediate end to the zero-tolerance policy.
Major tech companies, including Microsoft and Apple, also condemned the administration’s actions, adding to pressure on Trump to change course.
“I think that what’s happening is inhumane, it needs to stop,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
In the face of the backlash, most of Trump's aides have outwardly stuck to the same talking points. Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the practice during a White House briefing on Monday, claiming that the DHS was only "enforcing the laws passed by Congress."