Vulnerable GOP congressman uses fake data to defend family separation


Republican Rep. Scott Perry is defending Trump's unconscionable program of taking children away from their families — and he's using debunked lies to do it.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), whose extremism has him in a very tough battle for re-election, is relying on fear-mongering and falsehoods to defend the reprehensible family separation program put into place by the Trump administration.

Perry, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, was asked about the policy that rips children away from their families in an interview with PennLive. After first admitting that separating families is a "horrific circumstance," Perry pivoted immediately to defending the practice by reciting debunked data.

"A vast majority of these children aren't with their parents at the border," Perry said. "They're already with someone smuggling them, trafficking them. They're already with a coyote. They're not with their parents."

That's simply not true. It's not even close to being true. According to data from the Department of Homeland Security, smugglers and human traffickers make up less than one percent of families crossing the border.

"[F]or every 1,000 families that approached the border in the first five months of this fiscal year, only six allegedly involved individuals pretending to be a child's parents," the Washington Post reported in June 2018. "The percentage of alleged smugglers in fiscal 2017 was smaller, at 0.1 percent."

Perry is attempting to prop up Trump's abhorrent "zero tolerance" program while ignoring the data that tells a starkly different story.

Perry also lamented about the limitation on the federal government that allows it to detain children for only 20 days. The complaint echoed pervious complaints by Perry about the same issue, which is known as the Flores settlement. The 20-day limit was imposed by courts in order to protect children who were being abused during long periods of detainment.

Within 20 days, children are often released with their parents and given orders to show up in immigration court for their hearing. If children are unaccompanied, they are released to caregivers, oftentimes family members who are already in the United States.

Perry, once again without the facts, suggested that the government releases children and families, sending "them somewhere where we don't know."

The majority of immigrants show up for their court hearings, according to Politifact, and an even higher percentage of immigrants seeking asylum show up for their court proceedings.

Perry is certainly free to defend Trump's family separation all he wants — even while a majority of Americans oppose it — but the least he could do is get the facts straight.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.