Emanuel Stops Speech to Blast Trump, Border Separations

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new "zero-tolerance" policy

What to Know

  • Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May.
  • Democrats have turned up the pressure over the policy, and some Republicans have joined the chorus of criticism.
  • Trump cast blame on Dems Monday, saying they won't give the votes to change immigration laws. Emanuel has long been critical of Trump.

In the middle of a planned speech Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pivoted from the script to make unexpected and passionate remarks against the family separations taking place along the southern U.S. border.

"I think it is an absolute mistake what’s happening on our border in the United States," he said. (Read a full transcript of his remarks below) 

Emanuel had been speaking at a press conference announcing plans for a new Walgreens office in the city's Old Main Post Office building when he paused and said "I'm going to take liberty." 

"I know what America stands for," he said. "As an American I believe in America and its values and separating a parent from their child who’s only trying to bring their child to a better tomorrow is not who we are and not what we believe in."

The comments come amid rising outrage from Democrats and some Republicans over the forced separation of migrant children and parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

Democrats have turned up the pressure over the policy, and some Republicans have joined the chorus of criticism. Former first lady Laura Bush has called the policy "cruel" and "immoral" while GOP Sen. Susan Collins expressed concern about it and a former adviser to Trump questioned using the policy to pressure Democrats on immigration legislation.

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Trump continued to cast blame on Democrats Monday, tweeting: "Why don't the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world's worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?" Later, he again blamed Democrats during an event.

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Emanuel has long been critical of President Donald Trump and continued with harsh words Monday. 

"The only thing I can ever say complimentary of Donald Trump is that he brought people from diverse views and backgrounds from Laura Bush to myself to agree that he is wrong and absolutely wrong for America’s future and what is happening today in the name of America is not the America we believe in," he said. "To everybody that’s here from all different parts of America and all different parts of the world, welcome home - you’re part of our future and your children are part of our future." 

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refused Monday to apologize for enforcing immigration laws that result in the separation of children from their parents. Speaking at a meeting of the National Sheriffs' Association in New Orleans Monday, she rejected criticism accusing DHS of inhuman and immoral actions.

"We are doing none of those things. We are enforcing the laws passed by Congress," she said, calling on Congress to reform immigration laws.

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Read below for a full transcript of Rahm's remarks:

I think it is an absolute mistake what’s happening on our border in the United States.

That is not …

"When I look across this room, you’re bringing people from around the world who not only want to work for a company that works around the world but also for people from all different walks of life.

I know what America stands for.

As an American I believe in America and its values and separating a parent from their child who’s only trying to bring their child to a better tomorrow is not who we are and not what we believe in.

The only thing I can ever say complimentary of Donald Trump is that he brought people from diverse views and backgrounds from Laura Bush to myself to agree that he is wrong and absolutely wrong for America’s future and what is happening today in the name of America is not the America we believe in.

To everybody that’s here from all different parts of America and all different parts of the world, welcome home - you’re part of our future and your children are part of our future."

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