Political Notebook

Valadao switches from moral outcry to letter of the law with survey

Two days after he spoke out against the separation of migrant families, Rep. David Valadao released a survey asking his constituents to weigh morality vs. law and order at the U.S.-Mexican border.

The survey cites “recent reports” that say more than 32,372 unaccompanied children and an additional 59,113 family units have been apprehended at the border in 2018. It said this “substantial increase” was “both a humanitarian and national security crisis.”

Valadao then said this surge led the Department of Justice to implement its zero-tolerance policy, which separated families while adults faced prosecution for attempting to cross illegally.

It ended by asking: “In your opinion, should those who attempt to illegally enter the U.S. be criminally prosecuted and, as a result, be separated from their children?"Four responses were available:

Rep. David Valadao

“Yes, those who enter the United States illegally should be criminally prosecuted and as a result, be separated from their children.”

“No, those who enter the United States illegally should NOT (be) criminally prosecuted.”

“We need to strike a balance between securing our border and keeping families together.”

“I am unsure of how to handle the situation at our southern border.”

On Monday, Valadao said he was firmly against the separation of families at the border.

“While we must work towards a solution that reduces the occurrence of illegal border crossings, it is unacceptable to separate young children from their parents,” his statement said.

Wednesday’s survey, however, walked back that position to much more legal terms. It referenced prosecutions, crimes and numbers. And there was no option that only says "no, don’t separate children from their parents at the border."

TJ Cox, the Fresno Democrat running against Valadao in November, hammered the congressman’s survey on Wednesday.

“As a son of immigrants, here's what I know: You don’t need a survey to tell you that ripping kids away from their families is immoral,” Cox wrote in a tweet.

The tweet built on a statement sent out Tuesday by Cox; it said in part: “(Valadao and House Republicans) are sitting on the sidelines, allowing this administration to use children as a bargaining chip to build Trump’s wall.”

Valadao's district is overwhelmingly Hispanic/Latino, with 548,582 of its 726,385 residents – about 76 percent – identifying as either group. Nearly 207,000, or 28 percent, of its residents were not born in the U.S.

The survey appeared moot, as President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end the family separation policy.

However, Valadao and other members of Congress are considering several immigration bills this week. He may use his constituents’ responses in formulating his position on the still-tense issue.

A vote on some sort of immigration legislation is expected to happen this week.

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