GOP senator demands humane treatment for immigrants after suggesting they don't deserve it


Sen. John Cornyn's same-day statements about the border don't align with one another.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) on Monday demanded the Biden administration focus its efforts on humane treatment of immigrants entering the United States — the very same day he himself suggested they were not deserving of such treatment.

Cornyn co-signed a letter on Monday, along with Democratic Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, urging President Joe Biden to ensure those crossing the southern border were cared for, among other things.

"It is critical that our nation take aggressive steps to secure our border, protect our communities and ensure migrants are treated fairly and humanely," their letter read. "Your administration should take immediate action in two areas: ensuring there are sufficient resources and facilities at the border to manage the crisis and taking concrete steps to improve the asylum process. Both of these are critical to improving how our nation manages this situation."

However, in a separate tweet on Monday, Cornyn lamented Biden's decision to ensure fair treatment for those very same immigrants.

"Bill Clinton ran for re-election on a platform that said, 'We cannot tolerate illegal immigration and we must stop it.' Barack Obama once said, 'We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked,'" he tweeted. "President Biden has instead emphasized the humane treatment of immigrants, regardless of their legal status."

Cornyn was echoing a popular refrain among Republicans, who claim Biden and his policies have created a crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico, with supposedly massive numbers of undocumented immigrants crossing into the country, threatening American citizens. In reality, experts and advocates say the number of border apprehensions is down from where it was under Donald Trump, whose policies Biden has worked to unravel.

"Migration goes up and down, that’s the reality of the border," Ramona Casas, who spearheads the advocacy group Arise, told the Guardian on Friday. "Biden has different values and has given people hope, but there's no border crisis, to say so is political manipulation."

Additionally, for those currently being held in border facilities, the Biden administration has previously said it is working across several agencies to ensure minors are released to relatives in the country in a timely manner, and that all immigrants are treated humanely.

The administration has faced separate calls to end its enforcement of Title 42, which prohibits entry into the country based on concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Under that policy, a holdover from the Trump administration, those attempting to cross the border have been turned away or deported.

"This policy has been roundly denounced by public health experts, including CDC scientists, as both unnecessary and ineffective. The continued use of this policy is indefensible," said Efrén Olivares, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, in a statement back in February.

Cornyn's demands in Monday's letter also contrast with his long record of opposing immigrant rights.

In February 2018, Cornyn voted against a bipartisan immigration proposal that would have paved the way for legal status for undocumented immigrants serving in the military or those who arrived in the United States before the age of 18.

And in June 2019, Cornyn voted against a bill that later passed, which provided funds to ensure immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border received humanitarian assistance.

Still, in recent days he has insisted he is concerned about immigrants' wellbeing, as have his fellow GOP lawmakers.

"You can decide for yourself whether this is humane treatment," he tweeted on Monday, referring back to an earlier tweet linking to an Axios story about immigrants being held at border.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.