Father’s Day message: Florida Republicans defend family separations at Mexican border

John Rutherford

Here in Florida, our politicians message around Father’s Day with tweets and Facebook messages of pure, uncut sentimentality.

Yet, at various outposts near the U.S./Mexican border, a different narrative unfolds between parents and children.

President Donald Trump’s administration is under scrutiny for its decision to warehouse immigrant children in former Walmarts and other holding areas. With space at a premium, he mulls building Joe Arpaio-style tent cities for overflow.

In the last six weeks, 2,000 children — at least — have been separated from their families. And it is hard to find a Republican who will directly say the policy is wrong.

This outlet has asked Florida politicians for their takes. Both Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have fallen far short of expressly condemning the practice, saying that warehousing migrant minors wouldn’t be necessary if the immigration system weren’t “messed up,” with “secure borders” being the only possible fix.

On Saturday, at a gubernatorial campaign event for Commissioner Putnam, Jacksonville’s Rep. John Rutherford — a former Jacksonville Sheriff — defended the practice regarding illegal border crossers.

However, he noted that a piece of immigration legislation that he supports in the House, championed by Speaker Paul Ryan, would end the practice in exchange for border security measures prioritized by the President.

“If these children come with parents and they’re seeking asylum, then they’ve come here in a legal way, and they should be housed together because no law has been broken,” Rutherford began.

“However, if they come across the border illegally, the parents have broken the law. Just like an individual here in Jacksonville when I was sheriff, if he broke the law, I put him in jail. That separated him from his children,” Rutherford added.

“I believe that criminals go to jail,” Rutherford added. “Not children, but criminals.”

Rutherford, contra the critics, does not see the internment camps the federal government has built for children as prisons.

“If you look at the way they’re being housed, they’re being fed, they’re being taken care of. They have playrooms, I understand. All of that — they’re not in prison,” Rutherford said, adding that they “shouldn’t be put into prison with their parents.”

“You certainly don’t want them housed with pedophiles and others who might be in that situation,” Rutherford noted.

Rutherford told us that he does support the so-called “compromise bill currently in the House, a piece of immigration legislation that actually would end the border separations of parents and children.

“I think there’s some real possibility there that we may be able to get to 218,” Rutherford said.

“If you’re really concerned about border security, it’s in that bill. We’re going to commit $25 million to build that wall where the wall is necessary. Other areas it will be an electronic surveillance type situation. We’ll hire boots on the ground, to capture those who may be coming across,” Rutherford said.

Access roads and other necessities “to secure the southern border are in this bill,” Rutherford noted.

“And there are triggers,” Rutherford added. “If a future Congress does not follow through with that funding, the visas for the DACA are not released.”

“Assuming the border is taken care of, and the DACA recipients get a five-year legal status, not a Green Card, they get legal status, are able to stay in this country and work … folks who are here getting educated, getting their doctoral degree and Master’s and all of that, we won’t have to send them back,” Rutherford noted.

“Those who are concerned about the migrant population, the immigrant population, it’s in this bill also. The plan is to address the immigrant worker issue,” Rutherford said, and E-Verify.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Spiro

    June 17, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Re:”Father’s Day message: Florida Republicans defend family separations at Mexican border”— Who did nazi that coming?

    • Nordonia Nate

      June 18, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      Look at it this way.. As the family migrates through Mexico, they are never offered asylum, assistance, or opportunity. But they are given directions.. Upon making their way to the border, the family becomes illegal aliens by illegally violating established US immigration laws.

      Consider through this entire process… The parents subjected their children to many untold dangers just to enter the US illegally. How is that not child endangerment?

      Then, if you consider these people claiming to be refugees, WHY didn’t Mexico help them with asylum? Then, if they ARE refugees, why not apply for sanctuary at the US Embassy?

      Bet you did not see that coming? I mean, it’s better to fear monger than seek the truth.. OH!

      • Maria Vitullli

        June 19, 2018 at 3:00 pm

        For a family to leave home and all the dangers that implies, means that the situation that they find themselves in is intolerable and dangerous – more dangerous than taking your chances seeking ASYLUM in the U.S. What hatred must you have in your heart for others that are not like you to think that this situation is ok? What have these children done to deserve this kind of treatment? Asylum seekers are not breaking the law! The families that come to cross the border illegally who are not seeking asylum, should be sent back home TOGETHER!! Why separate them? Are we imprisoning the adults in private prisons? Are we doing this to feed money to the owners of these prisons at the expense of the children? If these facilities are so wonderful as Rutherford claims, then why is there no access for our representatives and the press with CAMERAS?

        • Nordonia Nate

          June 20, 2018 at 8:59 am

          The living conditions improve when attention is given to them. Fleeing does not help, only exacerbates the problem. IF it is as bad as YOU claim, WHERE are the other countries of the world on this? WHY aren’t they taking refugees? WHERE is the humanitarian outpouring?

          Also, judge not unless you can be judged. The overwhelming MAJORITY of aliens are NOT asylum seekers, or family units. They are people taking advantage of the US political situation.

          WHAT kind of politician actually uses these people for political gain? THAT is exploitation. THAT is disgusting. THAT IS HEINOUS. WHY are those politicians grandstanding at the border instead of in Congress finding a solution? WHY USE CHILDREN AS POLITICAL TOOLS?

          People like you scare the begeebers out of me. YOU only view things from YOUR agenda. YOU prey upon people’s emotions to avoid the practical problem..

          STOP exploiting children for political gain. STOP the heinous hate campaign. STOP talking and actually sit down to work on a solution. STOP blaming the US only! Where’s Mexico?

          Until YOU choose to become part of the solution, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

  • Karl Nurse

    June 17, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    On a Sunday morning, as politicians leave church, they support a clearly immoral policy of separating small children from their parents. They don’t even know where their children are.

  • Frankie M.

    June 17, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Using small children as bargaining chips. What a brilliant strategy! What is wrong with these people?

Comments are closed.


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