Political Notebook

What does Devin Nunes have to say about family separations at the border?

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, asks a question during a hearing on trade policy in this photo taken in March in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, asks a question during a hearing on trade policy in this photo taken in March in Washington, D.C. AP

Elected officials throughout the central San Joaquin Valley, in California and across the country have weighed in on the increasingly controversial policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, but the highest profile local congressman has remained silent on the issue.

Devin Nunes.

The Tulare Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has apparently not weighed in on the zero tolerance policy, which has separated at least 2,600 children from their parents in the last six weeks.

Nunes’ office did not return a request for comment from The Bee.

Both his official Twitter account and his personal one have made no mention of immigration or border separation. His tweets this week have focused on the Mueller investigation and Nunes’ own quest against the Department of Justice.

The press release section of his congressional website has not been updated in over a year. His most recent blog post was a condemnation of Gov. Jerry Brown’s water policies. His partisan news website has not posted anything since April.

His Fox News insider section, which includes stories about Nunes and clips featuring him, has nothing on immigration or border separation. Breitbart reported that Nunes gave the Department of Justice an ultimatum to respond to his subpoenas on Sunday morning, just as fervor over the separation policy began to boil over across the country.

Neither his congressional nor his campaign Facebook accounts have mentioned anything about the border policy.

President Donald Trump and his administration have attacked the controversy surrounding its policy in a variety of ways over the last few days.

Trump first placed the blame on congressional Democrats for their “cruel legislative agenda” on immigration. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen then denied the policy existed.

After several days under fire, Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that would keep families together but would also hold them in custody for an indefinite detention time.

Andrew Janz, the Fresno Democrat challenging Nunes in the November election, has condemned the policy through social media and released this statement on Nunes’ silence Wednesday:

“Once again Devin has remained silent on an issue of national importance. Republicans and Democrats around the country and Central Valley have condemned Trump's family separation policy, and Devin needs to do the same. His silence is an endorsement of this brutal policy.”

Janz will participate in a national demonstration alongside nonpartisan local group Faith in the Valley and travel to the border this weekend, saying he plans to keep community members updated on what he sees through social media.

According to 2016 census information, Nunes' 22nd District, which includes all of Clovis, Tulare, Visalia and parts of Fresno, had 138,590 foreign-born residents. That's roughly 18 percent of its 755,289 total residents. About 48 percent of the district is Latino or Hispanic.

Nunes’ congressional neighbors, both Democrat and Republican, have made themselves heard on the subject.

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, visited the border with 14 other members of Congress on Monday. He called the policy “unacceptable” and a deal-breaker that must be addressed in any legislation before he would sign it.

Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, released a statement Monday also calling the separations “unacceptable.” He released a survey on Wednesday asking for his constituents’ opinion on the matter.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, was in Fresno on Monday for a fundraiser with first daughter Ivanka Trump. He did not address the separation specifically, but he did tell donors that an immigration vote should be coming this week.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, told CNN on Monday that “neither party should want to separate kids from their parents.”

Denham then issued a statement Tuesday saying that he, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders, had submitted a “compromise bill” that addressed family separations, border security including a border wall, the future of Dreamers and more.

Democratic congressional members across the country have railed against the Trump administration over the policy, while many Republicans have also condemned the policy but laid the blame at Congress’ feet for failing to enact immigration reform.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday that “...all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan to keep families together while their immigration status is determined.”

House Democrats have submitted an immigration bill, and House Republicans have submitted two. A vote on some sort of legislation is expected this week.

Rory Appleton: 559-441-6015, @RoryDoesPhonics