tags: Press Releases

Mass-Detention Camps and Incarcerating Kids and Families: The GOP Price For Aiding the People of Ukraine

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Washington, DC – A revealing set of comments from Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and new reporting on Senate Republicans’ demands underscore the bad faith and extreme policy Republicans are insisting on in exchange for funding our allies in Ukraine. Among his comments yesterday, Senator Cornyn noted: 

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “So we have gone from the ‘Cornyn Con’ to the ‘Cornyn Confession.’ On the one hand, Senator Cornyn is admitting that a supermajority already supports our Ukrainian allies in the fight against Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Then, Senator Cornyn is admitting that in exchange for doing what a supermajority of his colleagues already support, Republicans are demanding a host of permanent and cruel policy changes and, in the process, threatening aid to our allies fighting against Putin. This was never about actual border security, just MAGA politics and advancing Trump and Stephen Miller’s nativist wishlist. All of it underscores the cynicism and bad faith on display by the GOP.”

And what are those extreme policy demands? While Speaker Mike Johnson is demanding House Republicans’ cruel, unworkable, and extreme HR2 legislation in exchange for Ukraine aid, Senate Republicans are aligned with their House counterparts’ extremism. Per longtime Senate chronicler Burgess Everett of Politico, Senate Republicans are insisting: on “DOD detention camps on military bases in the U.S. … Subject children to prolonged detention with their families … [and] Unworkable and impossible to implement nationwide mandatory detention.”

Cárdenas continued: “By their own admission, mass detention camps and incarcerating kids and families are Republicans’ price to stop Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. By changing the rules to put asylum out of reach of most people coming to the U.S. border, we are most certainly going to be sending people with valid claims of asylum back to face torture or death. There are important border and asylum issues Congress can and should address in the supplemental that would not permanently gut asylum or incarcerate kids. Democrats should stand strong against Republicans’ extremism, bad faith, and their stated refusal to engage in real bipartisan compromise.”

Resources and Background

Congress should advance bipartisan solutions to provide smart resources at the border that make the existing process work better while keeping communities safe, including: asylum processing, reducing backlogs and work permit waiting times, resourcing states, localities, and community shelter and support services, and bolstering access to legal counsel. 

A smart funding package would better fund the existing system and ensure humane treatment for asylum applicants and would not permanently block access to safety. See more policy details in the following memo from immigration experts and advocates on what border and asylum policy provisions Congress should prioritize and deliver in the supplemental package HERE.

  • Press release here with summary and audio recording of an immigration experts’ press call held last week
  • Read “Cruel, Unworkable and Extreme,” a short synopsis of the GOP’s H.R. 2 legislation here