A top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee said President Trump is using “inhumane policies” to “gin up” his base ahead of the November midterm elections.
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“It's wrong to separate babies, to use cruel, inhumane policies in order to gin up your political base,” Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday. “[But] it seems like it’s working because 90 percent of Republicans now have a favorable opinion of this president and support him.”
“He doesn't use it as immigration policy. He doesn't use it as border patrol policy. He uses it as an issue in order to energize his political base for the midterm elections,” Gutierrez added.
The congressman also took issue with references to all people crossing the southern border of the U.S. as "illegal" when many want to seek refugee status due to violence in their home countries.
“They are not coming here illegally," Gutierrez said on "This Week." "They are coming here seeking asylum and protection.”
The Chicago Democrat also said he would "absolutely" oppose a Republican proposal to allow the government to detain migrant children for longer than 20 days.
A court order from 2015 limits the time migrant children can be kept in detention to 20 days. But with President Trump's executive order last week calling for an end to family separations, Republicans are considering legislation that would allow parents and children to be detained together for longer periods.
Gutierrez said the best solution is comprehensive legislation "that would keep families together, that would make sure that our asylum system works."
He added that he agrees with former Trump adviser Tom Bossert's assertion in an earlier interview on "This Week" Sunday that the U.S. needs to address the violence in some Central American countries that leads people to flee. Bossert, now an ABC News contributor, is a former homeland security adviser to the president.
“I do agree with [Bossert] on this. As long as there are guns placed to people’s heads [in their home countries], as long as young girls, daughters are going to be raped and there’s nobody to protect them ... people are going to flee this kind of poverty and this kind of violence and this kind of crime," Gutierrez said.
“So let’s invest in our hemisphere,” the congressman said. “Let’s invest in democracy and in jobs and in economic development instead of using [immigration] as a wedge issue for the upcoming election.”