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CONNECT TO CONGRESS: Cortez-Masto talks new Supreme Court pick and more

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Senator from Nevada, Catherine Cortez-Masto sounding off on President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court in our Connect to Congress segment.

News 3: Will you be voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh?

Cortez-Masto: I don’t know yet and here’s why. The Senate has the advice and consent which to me is a unique and powerful authority that we have and I want to take my time. This is a lifetime appointment that is going to have an impact on our communities, our kids, our future. I want to go through the writings for Judge K. I want to go through his opinions. I want to do some research on some of the other things that he has written about. I want to make sure that I know about his background in work experience and other things and then I want the opportunity to sit down with him and ask him some questions.

I’m not on the senate judiciary committee, but I do want to see how my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the republicans and democrats, the questions that they have for him and how he responds. So I’m looking at all of that, like I’ve done with every nominee and position that has come before me as united states senator. I want to take my time and do my due diligence and research.

Is there any particular issue that concerns you?

Well, I can tell you I’m already concerned that he came off a list that was put forth by the heritage foundation and the federalist society. This is list by these organizations that I know that are looking for judges who are very very conservative, who they believe would roll back Roe v. Wade and take away a woman’s right to choose and have an impact on women’s healthcare, organizations that I know that would like us to take away workers’ rights and take away collective bargaining and also would really have an impact on the rights of individuals in general.

We have fought so hard in this country on anti-discrimination on so many levels and I am concerned about LGBTQ rights in discrimination in housing and workforce and so many other areas. And I know the heritage foundation, the federalist society are looking for conservative judges who are going to take all of that away. So because he came off this list, yes I do have concerns but that’s why I also want to take a look at his writings. I want to see what he has to say. I want to see how he handles himself in the judiciary committee. I want to meet him personally in my office and be able to ask him questions and see his response to me and his expressions."

Position on “zero tolerance” immigration policy?

It’s outrageous. What we have here is an administration that has developed a zero-tolerance policy. That’s never ever been used before against individuals and families who are fleeing their countries because there have been death threats against them or their family members or their family members have been threatened with rape or death. And they’re coming to this country based on laws that we have passed, our asylum laws that basically say if you are persecuted in your country and you don’t have any form of relief there come to the US under our asylum laws and we will help you, we will look to see how we can protect you and help you.

Now what this administration has done is take those laws and turn them completely upside down and basically use them to harm these families that are coming for help and basically say if you want to come to our country we’re going to lock you up and we’re going to treat you as a criminal and we’re most importantly going to deter anyone else that wants to come with their families, we’re going to take away your children. That’s outrageous and it’s inhumane. To me, that’s what needs to change. This zero-tolerance policy needs to stop.

This administration never had the intention of reunifying these families because they don’t have the ability and never had the process set up to do that because they’ve never done this before. So you have these various federal agencies, from border patrol to ICE, to homeland security’s office of refugee resettlement and they’ve never coordinated before. They don’t have any of the names of the kids and their families in the system because they’ve never had to coordinate before, so yes they cannot reunite them and it’s outrageous and you see some families with parents already being deported before they’re even being reunited with their kids. When I went down to the border and I met with 6 women and 4 men, they had no idea where their kids were. They were asking me. They were asking me where are my children we don’t have any information. They were saying when we even have information that comes across on a TV, they’re changing the channel, they don’t let us watch what’s going on around the world. They were asking me what was happening. It’s outrageous and that’s not who we are as a country. I am so glad that our justice system is holding this administration accountable and demanding these families be reunified and setting a timeline to make sure this happens and saying this can’t happen ever again.

We should be fighting for the best interests of these children and these families. We do it every day. We do it every day for our children and any child. I don’t care where they come from we should be looking out for their best interests.

Should there be border crossing spots or an open border when it comes to asylum-seekers?

But that’s the challenge, we have a system that is set up. And it’s been fine in a sense that when people come in we make a determination when they’re being persecuted in their country and when they come to our country, we make a determination. We allow them to come through, we assess them and we make a determination where they can stay. What has happened under this administration’s zero-tolerance policy is they’ve shut the doors, and they’ve basically told people who want to come through the normal channels that sorry we’re at full capacity and you can’t come through the door.

We’ve never done that before and so this administration has manufactured its own crisis and has created this problem and rightfully so we should be demanding that they fix it, demanding that they look out for the best interests of these families and these kids, because this is going to be a lifelong trauma on a lot of these kids and these families.

We’re talking toddlers, we’re talking babies, some of these kids are under 5 years of age. The woman that I’ve met with had a 5-year-old, she’d never been separated from her 5-year-old until the day that our federal government took the child away from her and sent her to, she doesn’t even know where.

Well I’ll tell you where: many of these kids are not even in Texas anymore, they put them in buses, they sent them to shelters across various states and other parts of the country from New York to New Jersey, all over when their parents are sitting in a detention facility in Texas not knowing what’s going on. It’s just outrageous and it’s not who we are as a country and it’s not how we treat families who are fleeing for their safety and for their lives.

Are you in favor of abolishing ICE?

No, do I think we should always be looking at agencies and determining are they running efficiently, do they have the resources they need, are they abusing their resources and their offices? We should always be looking at this. But let me tell you as attorney general of the state of Nevada, I worked with homeland security investigations because we work together to address human trafficking, transnational crime, to go after transnational organized crime, to address child pornography in the state of Nevada, to also look at intellectual property crimes.

What this administration is doing is taking the funds and the budget for homeland security investigations that is so important in this country and giving it to an unnecessary, inhumane, deportation force that thinks its ok to take children away from their parents who have come to this country seeking help and relief because their lives are being threatened. That’s what this administration and that, again, is outrageous. So let’s stop. Let’s stop diverting those funds, let’s make sure that not only are we putting funds where they need to go to address transnational crime, human trafficking, and child pornography and let’s make sure we’re holding those agencies, that unnecessary deportation force, that we’re holding them accountable for their, what I have seen some of the rogue actions by some of these agents. They need to be held accountable.

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