Die-hard President Trump supporters are remaining steadfast even as photos of children held in detention centers stoked outrage among Democrats and Republicans alike.
Cincinnati resident Andrew Pappas, 53, supported President Trump’s decision to separate children from parents who crossed the border illegally because, he said, it got Congress talking about immigration reform.
Niurka Lopez of Michigan, 54, said Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy made sense because her family came to the U.S. legally from Cuba, and everyone else should, too.
When Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end forced separations, they shrugged. The end, they suggested, justified the means. And it was the fault of Congress rather than Trump.
“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together. I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” Trump said during the signing ceremony:
President Trump signs order stopping his policy of separating families at border: "We're going to have strong, very strong borders, but we're going to keep the families together. I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated." https://t.co/YzATKeeoQl pic.twitter.com/iFNkBEPN0d
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 20, 2018
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen praised President Trump for signing the directive and called on lawmakers to pass immigration reform.
“We ask them to do their jobs. The laws need to be changed,” said Nielsen.
“The optics of what’s happening here directly at the border isn’t something that he wants to have on his watch, but at the end of the day, he still wants to focus the attention of Congress on the fundamental need for immigration reform in the United States, and I think he’s gonna hold firm on that,” said Pappas.
“His goal was not to rip families apart, I think his goal was to make Congress act on immigration reform,” Pappas added. “And now … everyone’s talking about immigration reform, and I think President Trump is getting exactly what he wants.”
Sixty-five-year-old Richard Klabechek of Oak Grove, Minnesota, who attended the president’s rally Wednesday evening in Duluth, Minnesota, said he was unmoved by the audio of crying children, saying it was “the media playing the heartstrings of the public.” And he said Trump was simply being Trump.
“I think Trump takes issues on in his own direct way, but it doesn’t fit the politically correct narrative of the media or the Democrats,” said Klabecheck, who is retired.
Lopez said Trump “really cares for the United States of America and the people of the United States of America and to protect us from people that want to hurt us.”
Others shared her assessment.
John Trandem, 42, who owns an automotive services company near Fargo, North Dakota, said he has supported all of Trump’s decisions during the border controversy.
“He’s certainly not a man without compassion. He’s not a monster as he’s being framed by the media and by the left,” said Trandem, who was the delegate at the 2016 Republican convention, where Trump clinched the nomination for president.
“He recognizes that it’s a very challenging issue. … Nobody wants to see parents and children separated, but … the blame should be put squarely back on the shoulders of the people who broke the law in the first place.”
Despite enjoying support from his base, “Trump is walking a tightrope here on immigration policy,” wrote Breitbart News Political Editor Matthew Boyle. “If he goes too hard against the amnesty plans, he risks dividing the GOP and losing moderates ahead of an all-important midterm election.”
“If he goes too hard for the amnesty plans, he risks similarly dividing the party by losing his base voters–and, as Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said, losing 50 seats in the midterm elections,” Boyle added. “Fires like these forge presidencies–or incinerate them–and how Trump handles the next 72 hours could very well determine if he is impeached by a potentially Democrat-controlled House in the next Congress or if he is re-elected in 2020.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.