On the eve of a deadline to reunite families who’ve been detained and separated at the border, Democrats yesterday blocked an effort by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to pass the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s floor remarks are below.


“We should all, as Americans, celebrate legal immigration and, in fact, the United States is the most generous country in the world when we naturalize almost a million new citizens each year, many of whom serve in the military and otherwise serve their newly adopted country and are rewarded, in part, by an expedited path toward legalization.”


“Let me explain why objecting to this commonsense legislation imperils the life and the well-being of children.”


“If you come into the country as a parent with a child, the parent being legally responsible is going to be prosecuted.”


“The child will be protected under the law that I mentioned earlier. They will be placed with a sponsor.”


“I regret that rather than embracing a solution, that there’s been an objection to this very reasonable proposal, one which would add additional immigration judges, would move these families to the head of the line so that they can present their case before the judge rather than to just release them into the vast American landscape, many of whom will never be heard from again. I think it’s a terrible lost opportunity.”


Background on the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act:


  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep immigrant families together at residential centers pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings.
  • Sets mandatory standards of care for family residential centers.
  • Authorizes over 200 new immigration judges and requires the DHS Secretary and Attorney General to expedite the court proceedings of children and families.
  • Keeps children safe by requiring a child be removed from the care of an individual in the following cases:
    • The individual presents a clear danger to the health and safety of the child;
    • DHS cannot verify that the individual is actually the parent of the child;
    • The parent of the child has a violent history of committing aggravated felonies;
    • The child has been a victim of sexual or domestic abuse; or
    • The child has been a victim of trafficking.