House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump’s threatened coast-to-coast deportations of migrants “outside the circle of civilized human behavior” and the Senate’s top Democrat labeled the warning “the very definition of callousness” on Monday in remarks that underscored the gap between the two sides over immigration.
The two leaders spoke after a weekend tweet in which Trump said he would give Congress two weeks to solve “the Asylum and Loopholes problems” along the border with Mexico. “If not, Deportations start!” he tweeted.
The president had earlier warned that there would soon be a nationwide sweep aimed at “millions” of people living illegally in the United S.tates including families. The sweeps were supposed to begin Sunday, but Trump said he postponed them.
Pelosi (D-Calif.), said the threatened raids were “appalling” when she was asked about them at an immigration event Monday in Queens, N.Y.
“It is outside the circle of civilized human behavior, just kicking down doors, splitting up families and the rest of that in addition to the injustices that are happening at the border,” she said.
That was a reference to detentions—often in harsh conditions—of people caught entering the country, including children.
She also said that in a Friday phone call to Trump in which she asked him to call off the raids, she told him, “You are scaring the children of America, not just in those families but their neighbors and their communities.”
For years, Democrats and Republicans have been unable to find middle ground on immigration that can pass Congress. It seems unlikely they will suddenly find a solution within two weeks.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois are trying to find middle ground on immigration, but their efforts are considered an uphill battle.
Asked Monday about Trump’s two-week deadline, No. 2 House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said it was “typical” of Trump. “I think that his efforts to use as pawns families who are living in this country are inappropriate,” said Hoyer, (D-Md.).
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is close to Senate GOP leaders, said Trump was trying to force Democrats to negotiate.
“It hasn’t worked yet, but I think it’s worth trying,” Cornyn said.
The House and Senate are expected to vote this week on separate but similar bills providing around $4.5 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants crossing the southern border.
Trump said he postponed the immigration raids “at the request of Democrats.”