MCALLEN, RGV – Joe Scarborough is urging the biggest and best U.S. law firms to send lawyers down to the border to represent pro bono Central American families who have had their children taken from them.

The former Republican congressman and host of Morning Joe on MSNBC is a fierce critic of President Trump’s new “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which requires the Department of Homeland Security to separate asylum-seeking parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“We went over to Paul, Weiss a couple of days ago. Paul, Weiss, a great law firm in New York City. They are known for their extraordinary pro bono work, working with indigents, working on big causes. I would love to see some of the biggest, some of the best law firms in America just send one of their lawyers down to McAllen, Texas,” Scarborough said Friday morning, on his MSNBC show. 

“Just send one of their lawyers down there. Flood the zone, people that could go in there and just start representing, one by one by one by one, these people who have had their children ripped from their arms.”

Scarborough said he knows there are good people in America.

“I have seen law firms do extraordinary things without expecting anything in return. This is what’s needed right now. During Katrina we saw people come in from all over America, good people come in from all over America and try to help the people of New Orleans, help the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This is what is needed right now,” Scarborough said.

“Somebody needs to organize this and get the best and the brightest lawyers that they can. Get them down to the border and do just what the Gore and the Bush teams did in 2000. Fly 737s of lawyers into a place and make a difference.”

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is a firm of more than 900 lawyers. The American Lawyer has ranked Paul, Weiss third in its annual “A-List. The ranking is based on revenue per lawyer, pro bono commitment, associate satisfaction, racial and gender diversity, and the percentage of female equity partners.

Merkley returns

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen has announced that U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon is returning to the Valley this weekend.

Merkley catapulted the separation of families issue into the national spotlight by trying to enter a detention center in Brownsville administered by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement. The facility had more than 1,000 refugee children inside. Merkley was denied entry.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley

Gonzalez said he will be joining Merkley and other members of Congress on a “fact-finding mission to investigate the Trump administration’s cruel family separation policy.”

Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Congressmen Filemon Vela of Brownsville, Peter Welch of Vermont, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin will be joining Gonzalez and Merkley on the trip.

Gonzalez said that on this trip the members will be able to tour the Brownsville facility that Merkley was previously barred from entering, as well as several other sites in the area that relate to the family separation policy. “Those sites include one of the bridges (Hidalgo) where the administration is reportedly slow-walking entry for asylum seekers who are trying to legally enter the U.S.”

Tentative stops on the tour include the Ursula Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen, the Border Patrol Station in McAllen, the Hidalgo Port of Entry/International Bridge in Hidalgo, and the Health & Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement Brownsville Children’s Shelter.

Floor speech

On Wednesday of this week, Congressman Gonzalez spoke on the House Floor about the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This ‘zero-tolerance’ policy is un-American,” Gonzalez said. “It needs to end now.”

Here are the congressman’s remarks in full:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker,

 I rise today to remind the American people of a quick phrase that was recently used by the current administration:

‘It’s not our fault.’

That’s the sentiment of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who deflected responsibility for the zero-tolerance policy that allows the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the month of May, this heinous new policy led to the separation of more than 600 children in a short, 13-day period.

 Yes, we are a nation of laws.

How can you explain family separation when it comes to asylum seekers? They have not illegally crossed, and yet they are being detained and their families separated as if they had crossed the border illegally.  

This is a clear attack on immigrants who have exhausted every last resource to seek refuge in a nation that once welcomed the tired, poor, and huddle masses yearning to breathe free.

Have we forgotten the words spoken in Mark 12:31? To ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’

Is our new message to blame others and not thyself?

I think it’s important to consider possible logistical challenges before implementing new policies.

 Perhaps instead of calling for zero-tolerance first, you put the prosecutors in place, and the facilities to house folks in a humane manner? 

 Instead, we ask the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to lend us their attorneys and rent out closed Walmart’s.

I have no illusions about what the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) are hiding behind those curtains.

We have to remember that these immigrant families are not committing dangerous crimes, and that asylum seekers are not criminals or illegal aliens.

I represent an area along the U.S.-Mexico border where crime is at record all-time-lows.

Yet the administration keeps saying the opposite.

I believe our local officers, local courts, local judges and local prosecutors—both in the Federal and State systems.

Right now, the only increased criminal activity I see is the egregious method of ripping families apart and herding immigrant children into a broken system.

Mr. Speaker, if any of these scared, innocent children ask a member of this House why they are being separated from their families, we cannot merely say ‘it’s not our fault.’

I yield back the balance of my time.”