Accompanied by Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., President Donald Trump arrives at a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Photo: Alex Wong
Photo: Alex Wong

The Jolt: The new wrinkle in Trump immigration policy --‘tender age’ shelters

We’ve got a new phrase in the debate over President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. From the Associated Press:

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas….

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson are being drawn into the debate.

Given that Perdue has made a name for himself as one of the president’s closest Capitol Hill allies, especially on immigration, he’s been a much sought-after voice as the migrant crisis has unfurled on the Southern border.

But Perdue stayed mum on the topic until Tuesday afternoon, when he blamed Democrats for the heartbreaking images of children being ripped from the arms of their parents.

It was Democrats, he said, who rejected several immigration measures being floated by the White House and its conservative allies earlier this year that would have fixed the underlying issues. “The Democrats didn’t go for it,” Perdue said, referring to one of those specific Senate proposals. “So do they want a solution or not?”

'Zero Tolerance' Immigration Policy: Why Are Children Being Separated From Their Families

Democrats, of course, framed things very differently on Tuesday.

As for his own preference to solving the current border crisis, Perdue indicated he was open to any plan that would keep families together while also addressing the underlying policies that he says have been encouraging people to cross the border illegally.

“I don’t want to see families separated, but I want to see the laws enforced,” he told us. “I want to see our borders secured.”

That’s not all that different from the approach being taken by his Georgia colleague Johnny Isakson, who would not publicly disclose which of the different GOP proposals he’d support. 

“I don’t want to get into specifics that are conditional because there’s no conditions per se,” Isakson said. “The condition is we get the problem fixed.”

Perdue will be at the White House today huddling with Trump over the Senate’s move to punish the Chinese telecom giant ZTE. We wouldn’t be surprised if immigration also made it into the discussion.

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WSB Radio’s Jamie Dupree monitored President Donald Trump’s visit to House Republicans, and had this odd scene waiting for us this morning:

As the president arrived on Capitol Hill last night, not only were Democratic lawmakers holding signs to protest how the Trump administration has been dealing with illegal immigrant families, but a young woman – thought to be a congressional intern – delivered an F-bomb at the president as he arrived at the U.S. Capitol.

I was down in the basement at the time, waiting outside the room where Mr. Trump was to meet with GOP lawmakers, and we clearly heard the “lookout” broadcast on the police radio, asking officers to watch for a young woman with dirty blonde hair, supposedly wearing blue-checkered pants, and wearing a congressional intern ID badge. 

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Ralph Reed, founder of the Duluth-based Faith and Freedom Coalition and one of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisors, has weighed in on the family separation issue. From the press release:

"The separation of families illegally crossing the border is heartbreaking and tragic, part of the larger tragedy of a broken immigration system that does not reflect our values or our faith,” stated Reed. "We urge Congress to act now to end the separation of children from parents at the border, reunite families legally entering the country, and secure the border.”

The three words missing from the statement: President Donald Trump.

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It doesn’t come as a surprise, but if you see Stacey Abrams smiling today, it’s because the Democratic nominee for governor has snagged an endorsement from former Vice President Joe Biden. From the press release: "She understands hard work and is committed to finding solutions for the families who come home after a long day of work struggling to get by.”

Two things worth noting: The fact that Biden is playing in a Georgia election is one more indication that the man is thinking about a presidential run in 2020. And the other: We’ll chalk up the Abrams’ campaign failure to put the word “former” in front of Biden’s title as a case of wishful thinking.

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One senses some extended family tension in a Tuesday piece by our AJC colleague Mark Neisse on ancestral claims by David Belle Isle, who is now in the Republican primary runoff for secretary of state. A taste:

Belle Isle’s website for months touted his entrepreneurial heritage, saying his “great grandfather operated numerous companies including Belle Isle Motors and the first taxi service in Atlanta.”

But a distant cousin produced evidence that David Belle Isle is not descended from Alvin L. Belle Isle, the founder of Belle Isle Motors, the Yellow Cab Company and other businesses. David Belle Isle’s great-grandfather was Alvin Belle Isle’s brother, Robert E. Belle Isle, according to obituaries, family trees and news articles.

Belle Isle said he was merely repeating the family history that had been passed down to him. Curiously, the incident may have just given the former mayor of Alpharetta another family tree branch to explore. Our former AJC colleague Doug Monroe posted this on Facebook last night:

Alvin Belle Isle was my great-grandmother's brother. Her name was Nancy Belle Isle Bettis. Everyone called her Belle, but I called her "Nanny." In addition to the taxicab company, Alvin built the Belle Isle garage, where people parked when they went to Davison's (later Macy's) or the movies at the Paramount and Loew's theaters.

Belle Isle and his brothers were Atlanta's first auto mechanics and drove around town chanting "We're rough, we're tough, we're Belle Isles and we never get enough!" Alvin loved to drive the open limousines that carried dignitaries in parades up Peachtree. My father bought his first car, a 1948 Plymouth, from Alvin's dealership, when cars were hard to come by after WWII.

John Portman bought the Belle Isle Garage to set up his first merchandise mart. Alvin's generation of Belle Isles grew up in their mother's boarding house at 6th and Piedmont. She kept a cow in the yard. The late historian Franklin Garrett said he cut through her yard to get to the old 10th Street School (where the fire station is now).

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Georgia officials on Tuesday announced a major down payment on a transit expansion along Ga. 400 in north Fulton County.

The state will spend $100 million over the next several years to build four new interchanges for commuter buses along a 16-mile stretch of the busy highway between I-285 and McFarland Parkway in Alpharetta.

The venture figures big in Georgia’s pursuit of that second Amazon headquarters. But to understand how contrary this is to Republican thinking elsewhere, consider the New York Times article that includes these paragraphs:

In cities and counties across the country – including Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix, Ariz.; southeast Michigan; central Utah; and here in Tennessee – the Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit, an offshoot of their longstanding national crusade for lower taxes and smaller government.

At the heart of their effort is a network of activists who use a sophisticated data service built by the Kochs, called i360, that helps them identify and rally voters who are inclined to their worldview. It is a particularly powerful version of the technologies used by major political parties.

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One more point on the above transit announcement: Gov. Nathan Deal & Co. have just given U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, something very big to brag about in a Sixth District election climate that could be challenging by November.

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Brian Kemp, who faces Casey Cagle in a GOP primary runoff for governor, has picked up the support of Family Policy Alliance, a conservative advocacy group and partner of Focus on the Family that backs “religious liberty,” school choice and anti-abortion measures. 

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