Lawmakers' highest priority should be to ensure children separated from their parents are reconnected, not passing laws, Rep. Eric Swalwell said Friday morning, but he does not have confidence that federal immigration officials have a plan to reunite the families.
"Concerned Americans the last few weeks were quite loud," the California Democrat told CNN's "New Day."
"They wrote their lawmakers. They posted on social media. They showed up at the detention centers. That moved the president to correct this very inhumane policy. Now we must make sure we do what we can to reunite these children who were ripped out of the arms of their loving mothers and fathers."
Swalwell told show co-host Alisyn Camerota that in his Northern California district, his office has been speaking with shelters, childcare centers, and social workers to determine what they know, and he thinks if all members of Congress are doing that, 'we have a good chance to find as many of them as possible.
"Many people just see, you know, children on airplanes in large packs, reporting that is also important," said Swalwell.
"It has helped us have a sense of where they are. We shouldn't do anything legislatively until we can reconnect these children. That has to be our highest priority. No child should go to sleep away from their parents. That is a moral responsibility we have. That's a human responsibility we have."
He noted that it is also difficult for a parent who has been turned away from the United States and sent back to their home country to keep in communication about their children.
"It is a crisis in our country right now," Swalwell said. "It's a humanitarian crisis. And so that should be our priority. And continue to put the pressure. Because this administration I think has shown it is willing to deceive the American people. And only when we make the phone calls, show up in the streets, put the pressure on can we get the result that is right."
A compromise bill on immigration is now on delay, and Swalwell said he can't get on board with it as it stands.
"It reduces by a third the number of dreamers who are eligible," he said. "It gives no pathway to citizenship for the 12 million in our country, and it ends the family reunification program and punishes the people who have already gone through the program and have been granted a pathway."
However, he said, there has been a bipartisan bill that "most Democrats and a good chunk of Republicans signed, so there is consensus among Democrats and Republicans on what we should do. . . . the president's best day is when he convened Republicans and Democrats at the White House.
"He said you work on the bill. You pass it. I'll take the heat and sign it. Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin brought the bill to him. Two days later he said the awful things about immigrants and we have never been able to get back to that point."
Immigration, though, will require a bipartisan solution, Swalwell warned.
"If Democrats are cut out of negotiating, then this is going to continue to be a crisis and children will sleep tonight away from their parents," he said.
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