Even though President Trump’s executive order calls for mass detention of families, rather than children and parents separately, the zero tolerance policy he set in motion on April 6 is still in place. Migrating people, whether seeking asylum or not, are still being prosecuted.
The House was set to vote Thursday on two immigration bills. After the more conservative measure fell to defeat, members postponed until Friday a vote on the second bill, which is seen as a compromise between conservative and moderate Republicans. It seeks to overhaul the immigration system, earmarking $25 billion for construction of Trump’s border wall. It includes a provision that reinforces the president’s executive order, requiring parents and children to be held together in custody, eliminating the 20-day cap on holding minors and allowing indefinite detentions. It also proposes steep cuts to legal immigration programs while providing legal status to an estimated 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, the so-called Dreamers.
But passage is far from certain. In a tweet Thursday, Trump said he wasn’t sure why House leaders would bother since Senate Republicans would need the support of nine Democrats to make the bill filibuster proof. Republicans control the Senate 51-49 but need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
The ACLU is urging people to call their congressional delegations. A form on the ACLU website will even connect you to make the call.
The organization Indivisible, which advocates for people to work with their own congressional delegation to counter the Trump administration agenda, offers step-by-step advice for what to say to your representatives, whether they are Republican or Democrat.
Family separation call script (Senate)
If your senator is a Republican
Caller: Hi! My name is [name], and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling today to tell [senator] to stop family separations at the border.
Staffer: Thanks for calling. Thanks to the president’s executive order, families will no longer be separated. [Senator] is happy to see the situation resolved.
Caller: The situation is not resolved. The executive order does not remove the zero tolerance policy and would lead to jailing of immigrant families. That is unacceptable. Family jails is not the answer, and I want you to oppose any efforts in the Senate that would create them. That means I expect [senator] to vote against the Cruz proposal, or any other that creates family jails.
Staffer: We’ll be sure to pass your message to [senator].
Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information so you can let me know what [senator] decides to do.
Family separation call script (House)
If your representative is a Republican
Caller: Hi! My name is [name], and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling today to tell [representative] to vote NO on both the Goodlatte bill and the Paul Ryan proposal. If [he/she] cares about the plight of these children being taken from their parents at the border, [he/she] would support legislation that actually protects these children and doesn’t hurt other immigrants, including Dreamers.
Staffer: Thanks for calling. [Representative] is currently monitoring the situation at the border and will make an appropriate statement when necessary. However, [he/she] does believe that our immigration system must be reformed to cut down on fraud and abuse and strengthen our border. [Representative] will be looking at the upcoming proposals to see how they address our system and solve the family separation situation.
Caller: Neither the Goodlatte nor the Speaker Ryan proposal would stop family separations at the border. They would only make it worse and make it easier to deport parents and keep them from their kids. Additionally, both bills seriously harm immigrants and prevent families from unifying.
Staffer: I’ll pass along your thoughts to [representative].
Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information so you can let me know what [representative] decides to do.
Family separation call script (House or Senate)
If your member of Congress is a Democrat
Caller: Hi! My name is [name], and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling today to thank [member of Congress] for co-sponsoring the Keep Families Together Act and for speaking out against Trump’s cruel zero tolerance policy and the resulting separation of children from their parents at the border. I do also ask that [MOC] also vote NO on any future spending bills unless they REDUCE funding for ICE and CBP.
Staffer: Thanks for calling. [MOC] is deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s immigration policies, particularly the family separation policy. However, [MOC] does believe that the government should be funded and should have the capacity to protect our homeland. [Member of Congress] will be evaluating any spending bills that come to a vote.
Caller: Under the Trump administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection have terrorized immigrant communities. This family separation crisis at the border is only the latest example of ICE’s and CBP’s abusive behavior. These two agencies are separating families every single day, and Congress has done nothing to stop them. If [member of Congress] really cares about keeping families together, then [he/she/they] will vote to defund the agencies responsible for it. Will [member of Congress] help defund hate by committing to vote against any spending bill unless it reduces funding for ICE and CBP?
Staffer: At this point in time, [member of Congress] will be evaluating any future spending bill that comes up. I’m happy to pass your message along to [him/her/them].
Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information so you can let me know what [member of Congress] decides to do.