Arizona lawmakers respond to family separation issue at border

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jun 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 10:42:27-04

From all levels of government, lawmakers in Arizona said they want the immigration crisis resolved and for kids not to be separated from their families. 

GOP Congresswoman Debbie Lesko said she co-sponsored a bill and it "secures our border, closes immigration loopholes, and allows children to remain with their parents if taken into custody." 

Southwest Key has more than a dozen child migrant shelters in Arizona.

On Tuesday, former Southwest Key worker Antar Davidson said he quit his job at the Tucson location when he said he was told by a superior that a group of siblings was not allowed to hug.

Davidson said the influx of kids has been heartbreaking.

"Over the past six weeks they've seen more kids that weren't prepared and that were lifted from their parents' arms," he said.

But U.S. Border Patrol official Art Del Cueto is unapologetic about his duty. He said the situation is not all that it appears on television.  

"You hear the audio of a child asking for mom, dad, aunt and it is heartbreaking to hear that," Del Cueto said. He serves as the president of the U.S. Border Patrol Union in Tucson.

"We're out there arresting individuals that are committing a crime. We're not out there arresting Mexicans, we're not out arresting Guatemalans, we're not out there arresting El Salvadorians. We're arresting people committing crimes."  

Del Cueto said the border patrol agents have a job to do and they are taking a public beating over President Trump's zero tolerance policy.

"For people to compare us to Nazi Germany, people that were murdering kids, experimenting on kids and murdering parents. That is just disgusting and despicable to come up with that comparison," Del Cueto said.

Del Cueto said many times that people who try to cross the border illegally are posing as families and really smuggling kids.

"They have committed that crime with a child, and we are not going to tolerate it," he said. "We have been separating them to make sure the child is not in danger."

He said it's not uncommon to see people leave their children in the desert if they're in fear of being caught.

Rep. Debbie Lesko, Sen. Jeff Flake, Gov. Doug Ducey, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, and Sen. John McCain have all said they don't want to see families separated at the border.  

Top Senate Republicans said they will work on legislation as early as this week to stop it.