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GOP congressman: Ripping families apart looks bad but I'm still for it

Rep. Scott Perry is still defending Trump’s family separation policy, though he said ‘the optics of it are simply awful.’

By Dan Desai Martin - September 28, 2018
Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) continues to use misinformation to defend Trump’s unconscionable family separation policy, even as he laments the “optics” of the policy.

Perry, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, recently appeared on a local news program and was asked directly about the family separation policy implemented by the Trump administration over the summer.

While he first paid some lip service, saying he sympathized with immigrant families, Perry quickly pivoted to a fear-mongering defense of the program, relying on misinformation regarding human trafficking.

“A lot of times, these children that come, these minors that come, aren’t with their parents to begin with,” Perry said. “Their parent had given them to a coyote or a trafficker and they are bringing them up to the border.”

The “high levels of human trafficking” myth is a long-debunked Trump administration talking point that is disproved by the administration’s own data.

According to a Washington Post analysis of data from the Department of Homeland Security, barely one-half of 1 percent of families who approach the border involve individuals pretending to be a child’s parents.

That comes out to six families out of every thousand, which is certainly not, “a lot of times,” as Perry would have people believe. Stopping human trafficking is important, but Perry tries to misrepresent data to defend a policy of kidnapping children from their parents.

The policy Perry defends resulted in children being kidnapped from their parents in hopes that such draconian measures would be a deterrent to other families who sought refuge in the United States.

Thousands of children were separated from their parents and placed in cages or other unsafe conditions. One 18-month-old toddler became ill while in custody and died shortly after being released.

The inhumane and unconscionable policy was roundly criticized, and the Trump administration ultimately relented and reversed course. And while Perry expresses some measure of sympathy for these children and families, he has never outright criticized the policy.

As a follow-up, Perry was asked if “the administration made a misstep?” In his answer, Perry never directly criticizes Trump,  — nor the policy itself. Instead, he defended the policy again.

“I think it is a misstep of how it was handled, obviously, and like I said, the optics of it are simply awful,” Perry responded. “Because they are real for that child and real for that family,” Perry continued. But before long, he pivoted once again to defend Trump.

“At the same time, as lawmakers and as an executive branch, you are bound — you have taken an oath — to uphold the federal law,” Perry said.

However, there is no federal law that requires children and parents be forcibly separated. It is a specific policy decision of the administration, as evidenced by the fact that the administration reversed their own policy.

Perry continues to rely on misinformation to prop up Trump’s indefensible family separation policy.

Perry is locked in a close race against Democratic candidate George Scott with Cook Political Report ranking the race as “Lean Republican.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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