Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday distanced himself from the controversy engulfing President Donald Trump’s administration over the policy of separating undocumented migrant children from families stopped at the U.S. border.
Scott, a Republican seeking to oust incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, said Monday he does not support the policy, which has resulted in more than 2,000 children being taken from their parents or families since April.
Unlike some other Florida Republicans --- including Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, who called the policy “unconscionable” --- Scott avoided directly criticizing the Trump administration.
Instead, he blamed politicians in Washington for failing to reach an accord on immigration policy.
“What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bi-partisan inaction and failure from our federal government,’’ Scott said in a statement distributed by his Senate campaign. “They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos. Let me be clear --- I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border.”
Nelson’s campaign lashed back at Scott, calling on the governor to directly challenge Trump, a close ally of the governor.
“As thousands of kids sit and sleep in warehouses, separated from their parents, Rick Scott, once again refuses to stand up to the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane policy of separating families,” Carlie Waibel, Nelson’s campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The family separation policy has sparked a national outcry from immigration advocates, Democrats and many Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat, said Monday that Trump’s immigration policy overall is “racist,” adding that the policy of separating families was also cruel.
Frankel said she and a delegation of congressional Democrats later this week plan to visit the detention facilities being used by immigration authorities.