Sen. Ben Sasse Urges Trump and Congress to Stop Replacing a 'Foolish' Immigration Policy with 'Wicked' Policy

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., speaks Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in his Lincoln, Neb., office. A week of protests and raucous town halls isn't deterring President Donald Trump or the Republican congressional leadership. They're "staying the course" on health care, taxes and other issues. But the national pushback leaves some Republicans wary, not only about the next steps on the agenda but the possibility it could prove costly in next year's elections. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Sen. Ben Sasse addressed the issue of child separation at the border for families who cross illegally and called for action from a “broken” Congress to find a way to fix what he unequivocally called a wicked act.


Sasse laid out nine points in his remarks, explaining how the “foolish policy of catch-and-release led to the crackdown on illegal aliens entering the country with children.

2) This bad new policy is a reaction against a bad old policy. The old policy was “catch-and-release.” Under catch-and-release, if someone made it to the border and claimed asylum (whether true or not, and most of the time it wasn’t true), they were released into the U.S. until a future hearing date. Many folks obviously don’t show up at these hearings, so this became a new pathway into the U.S.

3) Catch-and-release – combined with inefficient deportation and other ineffective policies – created a magnet whereby lots of people came to the border who were not actually asylum-seekers. This magnet not only attracted illegal immigrants generally, but also produced an uptick in human trafficking across our border. (We now also have some limited evidence of jihadi recruiters spreading word about how to exploit the southwestern border.)

4) Human trafficking organizations are not just evil; they’re also often smart. Many quickly learned the “magic words” they needed to say under catch-and-release to guarantee admission into the U.S. Because of this, some of the folks showing up at the border claiming to be families are not actually families. Some are a trafficker with one or more trafficked children. Sometimes border agents can identify this, but many times they aren’t sure.

5) Any policy that incentivizes illegal immigration is terrible governance. But even more troubling is that catch-and-release rewarded traffickers, who knew they could easily get their victims to market in the U.S.

6) This foolish catch-and-release policy had to be changed. But changing from catch-and-release does not require adopting the wicked family separation policy. The choice before the American people does not have to be “wicked versus foolish.”


Sasse went on to rightly argue that the idea that the administration’s only choice in attempting to fix this problem is to remove minor children from their families is “flat out wrong.”

He also claims there are those in prominent positions in the administration who know this and are sympathetic to the need to fix this extreme policy. But says, “some in the administration have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage.”

Sasse concluded by pointing at the Congress’s long dereliction of it’s responsibility to craft and pass sound and good immigration policy and not leave so much power to in the hands of the president to attempt to fix the issue of illegal migration into the United States.

Unfortunately, it seems those immigration hardliners in the White House — cough, Stephen Miller, cough — are enjoying more influence with the president today as he took to Twitter and doubled down on the cruel policy.

On the positive side, in an era when both sides tend to move to their corners and not budge, the issue of the United States government not finding a better solution for these cases has swiftly become a bipartisan outcry to find one. And that’s encouraging because they’ll need a veto-proof majority to thwart Trump on this narrow issue.


Be sure to read Kimberly Ross’s article about Congress’s inaction leading to this crisis here.


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