Government

Blum backs legislation to end separation of families at border

US Representative Rod Blum (R-IA) speaks at the Linn County Republican Party convention at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, March 10, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
US Representative Rod Blum (R-IA) speaks at the Linn County Republican Party convention at Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, March 10, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Although he doesn’t want children of illegal immigrants separated from their parents, Iowa 1st District Rep. Rod Blum is calling for congressional Democrats to join efforts to fix the problem.

“I never want to see children taken from their parents because their parents broke our laws,” the Dubuque Republican said.

However, Blum said both parents and children should be detained at the border if they are entering the country illegally.

Blum, who is running for a third term in the 20-county northeast Iowa district, said Friday he hoped House Democrats will work with the GOP majority to fix problems in immigration laws dating back two decades.

He also criticized media coverage of the “hyperpartisan issue” for focusing on the separation of children from their parents.

“They are failing to acknowledge the fact that 10,000 out of 12,000 of these children under the care of Health and Human Services were sent to this country without any of their family members,” Blum said.

That has resulted in a 325 percent increase in unaccompanied children crossing the border in just one year, according to Kristjen Nielsen, director of Homeland Security.

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“That means more and more illegal aliens are using this process as a loophole to enter the country illegally — taking up more and more resources like judges and holding centers to deal with the influx of illegal aliens,” Blum said.

While he sympathizes with the experiences of these unaccompanied children “as a side effect of their parents’ decision to break the law, these perverse incentives must be discontinued,” Blum said.

Blum has signed on to a proposal by Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., that calls for removing requirements of the Flores settlement agreement from applying to accompanied children and requiring the children be kept with their parents in residential shelters during judicial proceedings.

It also would “ensure the small percentage of unaccompanied illegal children who do have families in custody are held together and to provide funding for a 1,000 increase in beds and 225 additional immigration judges to deal with the backlog of cases,” Blum said.

State Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque, who is challenging Blum, earlier this week voiced her opposition on social media to what she was seeing from the Mexico-Texas border.

“The scenes from our border are cruel and heartless — this is not who we are as Americans. First Lady Laura Bush has it right — we need to stop this, and it needs to end right now,” Finkenauer posted on Twitter.

Despite Blum’s opposition to family separation, groups opposing Blum’s re-election — Indivisible Dubuque, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa and NextGen America — sponsored a “Families Belong Together” rally and march to his Dubuque office Friday.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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