As Republicans try to respond to the immigration debacle caused by the Trump administration’s now – at least temporarily – ceased policy of forcing the separation of immigrant children from their families, they are finding that the lingering public outrage will not be so easy to overcome.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) certainly discovered that hard fact today while speaking to reporters outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in south Florida.
As he tried to make a statement to the assembled journalists near the private contractor-run facility, he was confronted by protesters who heckled him as he attempted to make excuses for the shameful Republican legislative efforts on immigration.
Shouting at the senator and calling him an “opportunist,” the hecklers responded to Senator Rubio’s claim that he understood why people attempt the hazardous voyage to the United States by yelling out “No, you don’t!”
Sen. Marco Rubio at the Homestead facility, talking to media…. a couple hecklers here too, calling him an opportunist pic.twitter.com/mvSqSEejXo
— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) June 22, 2018
Marco Rubio: "I understand why people" make dangerous journey to U.S. border.
Protesters: "No you don't!" pic.twitter.com/RfQXlwPUcx
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) June 22, 2018
Senator Rubio visited the detention facility this morning two days after President Trump was forced to reverse his policy of separating the refugee children from their parents after enormous public condemnation and political damage for the Republicans and after falsely and repeatedly placing the blame for the policy on Democrats.
A surprise visit to the same shelter earlier this week by two Democratic lawmakers, including Rubio’s Senate colleague Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), was blocked by Department of Health and Human Services officials. This led Senator Nelson to accuse the Trump administration of a “cover-up” when they were not allowed to survey the living conditions, according to a report on The Hill.
“It is an affront as the senior senator of this state that an agency head would tell me that I do not have entrance into a federally funded facility where the lives and health of children are at stake,” Nelson said.
The Department of Health and Human Services responded by sending a directive to lawmakers that they must give two weeks’ notice before traveling to an immigrant detention center for any inspection, hardly a reassuring sign that the shelters are being managed in an orderly, properly run manner.
The heckling of Senator Rubio shows that the outrage over the Trump immigration initiatives has not subsided. It also demonstrates that the political damage to Republicans may last longer than they hoped, especially since, despite the president’s reversal of his policy, his hateful rhetoric has continued.
One can only hope that voters still remember that sense of outrage when they go to the polls in the midterms in November.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.