Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) had some trouble articulating his position on the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which instructs Border Patrol officials to separate immigrant children from their parents.
Speaking with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Toomey initially said that stories about the trauma migrant children and parents are facing due to the policy have been "exaggerated significantly."
"I think the instance of the, you know, the heart-wrenching separation of a small child from the mother is, has been, the frequency has been exaggerated significantly."
Seriously, this Pat Toomey interview is hilarious. He goes from saying children aren't being separated from paren… https://t.co/xTwQFyNNJ7— Jennifer Bendery (@Jennifer Bendery) 1529344759.0
The Pennsylvania Republican then questioned whether the people bringing children over the U.S.-Mexican border are, in fact, the actual parents of the children accompanying them.
"There are serious challenges at the border like, 'Does the person claiming to be the parent, is that person actually the parent?'"
@rbhumble @pcarenza @laurawbush You seem woefully misinformed on the topic. They are arresting Asylum seekers and p… https://t.co/J19McMI7CH— Pat Toomey never held a Town Hall in Philadelphia (@Pat Toomey never held a Town Hall in Philadelphia) 1529365093.0
But after Hewitt noted that more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border, and that many of them are being kept in cages, Toomey admitted he actually had no idea what he was talking about.
"This is not my area of expertise, Hugh. I'm going to have to drill down into this and address it," he said. "And maybe you're right. Maybe this is happening with a higher frequency than I've been aware of, and it is certainly, it's just not the right thing to be doing."
Pat Toomey: This family separation stuff at the border is so exaggerated. Hugh Hewitt: No it's not it really bad.… https://t.co/S5HyAjKxqA— Jennifer Bendery (@Jennifer Bendery) 1529334672.0
Hewitt then asked Toomey if he thinks the zero tolerance policy is leading to a humanitarian crisis, to which Toomey said yes.
"Yeah. Yes. I suppose it could," he said. "I mean, I think clearly, the country is focused on this. Clearly, it's a horrendous situation if a small child is being taken away from the child's actual mother. So I think we've got to solve this problem."
@SenToomey with this statement you show yourself to be un-Christian, un-American, and thoroughly dishonest. You are… https://t.co/AgbyaFWUQr— Cherie Winner (@Cherie Winner) 1529340253.0
HuffPost asked Toomey's office for clarification on his views, and Toomey spokesman Steve Kelly said the possibility of a humanitarian crisis "accurately depicts" the senator's stance.
Nearly 12,000 migrant children are being held in detention centers in the southwestern United States. Some of them are as young as four years old.
You can listen to Toomey's interview with Hewitt here.