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In Continued Proof of GOP’s Descent On Immigration, Florida Rep. Anna Paulina Luna Says “We Want Family Separation”

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Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) has yet again called for the return of the Trump administration’s cruel and traumatic family separation policy, which tore more than 5,500 children from their families and resulted in one of the darkest chapters in modern U.S. history. While the Biden administration has reunited 700 kids, hundreds of others still remain separated due to the Trump administration’s sloppy recordkeeping, rapid deportation of parents, and general indifference.

Luna reiterated her support during a House Oversight hearing last week, where she cruelly questioned the suffering, and even the authenticity, of families torn apart under the policy. When Cato Institute immigration policy expert and witness David Bier rightfully took issue with her callous accusations, she flew into an immature and uninformed tirade. It was during this contentious back-and-forth that Luna again said the quiet part out loud.

“You talk about intentional trauma and that the Trump administration caused intentional trauma separating these children from their quote, unquote parents,” Luna said (emphasis ours). When Bier scoffed at her remarks, Luna grew angry. “Why are you laughing?” she demanded. 

“Because you said ‘quote unquote parents,’ as if they weren’t really their parents,” Bier replied. “You have no idea,” Luna very wrongly shot back. When Bier attempted to defend the facts, Luna pivoted to a dumb, personal attack (including to demand to know if he’s “psychic” and if he’s “won the lotto”) before unequivocally stating that “we want family separation.” A clearly astounded Bier asked, “you want family separation?” Watch the clip below.

We should all be shocked, too. Physicians for Human Rights, a humanitarian organization made up of medical professionals, said in a 2020 report that zero tolerance rose “to the level of torture,” and was a form of “enforced disappearance.” Some parents spent months agonizing about the whereabouts of their children. “M.S.E.,” a separated parent from one of the many lawsuits over the policy, said that officers told her that her child would be put up for adoption and that she would never see him again. 

“They told M.S.E. to forget about her son,” not even giving her a chance to hug him goodbye before taking him away. As Bier said during his testimony, “the architects of this disaster went beyond simply dismantling the U.S. system. They also decided to use immigration law for the psychological torture of children. They separated children from their parents and pretended that the law required this outcome.”

Yet this isn’t the first time that Luna has called for the return of this policy, last year claiming that “we still need to be separating these children from people claiming to be their parents because we know for a fact now that children were largely being exploited.” She must be getting her facts from the same place as family separation architect and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who once claimed, without a single shred of evidence, that children were being exploited in “recycling rings.”

During the height of the family separation crisis in 2018, some Republicans broke ranks to condemn then-President Trump’s separations. But in yet further sign of the rapid radicalization of the GOP, Republicans are today calling for the return of this horrific policy. 

Chad Wolf, the former Nielsen chief of staff who went on to unlawfully lead DHS following her resignation (and treated it like a Trump superPAC), has said he supports the return of family separation. “I asked Trump’s former Homeland Security chief if he would push for family separation again if Trump returned to power,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) wrote in December. “His response? ‘All options should be on the table.’” Trump himself has refused to rule out resurrecting family separation. “When you say to a family that if you come we’re going to break you up, they don’t come,” he said last year. But the idea that it would stop others from coming was bogus. It was always meant to hurt people. 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: as horrific as their policies were the first time around, they have made it crystal clear the second time will be far worse.