Watch CBS News

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley says "we should not be separating families" at border

Haley against Trump-era immigration policies
GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley says "we shouldn't be separating families" at border 10:11

Washington — Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley distanced herself from former President Donald Trump's policy of separating migrant children from their parents, but said it happened because lawmakers have long been at a stalemate on immigration reform

"It should never get to that point," Trump's former U.N. ambassador told "Face the Nation" on Sunday when asked if she would revive the controversial policy as a deterrence to illegal border crossings. "No, we should not be separating families, but we shouldn't be taking families that we don't have any control over." 

Before Title 42 — a pandemic-era emergency rule that allowed the Trump and Biden administrations to expel migrants without court hearings — ended last week, Customs and Border Protection apprehensions hit all-time highs. But an expected spike in illegal crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border after the policy ended has not materialized in the immediate aftermath, according to government data obtained by CBS News. Still, holding facilities in the Rio Grande Valley are over capacity. 

Haley blamed the crisis at the border on both Republicans and Democrats, saying it "should have been dealt with a long time ago and it wasn't." She indicated she would stop allowing any immigrants into the country until immigration reform is passed. 

Nikki Haley on "Face the Nation," on May 14, 2023. CBS News

"I think we need to stop the bleeding of the border and completely do immigration reform before we can think of taking anybody else into this country," she said. 

She said legal immigration should be dependent on factors such as merit, talent and business needs. 

"Let's not do it just because people happen to cross the fence and get away," Haley said. "Let's not do it because we have crowded facilities and we can't hold anymore. That's the wrong way to go about it. We have to make sure this is a national security issue." 

"We shouldn't wait for another 9/11 to realize that Republicans and Democrats have to get in the room and figure out immigration reform and start working for the American people instead of the other way around," she added. 

The Biden administration is seeking to reduce the historically high levels of migration through several deterrence measures, including disqualifying migrants from reentering the U.S. for five years if they do not first seek refuge in a third country on their way to the U.S. 

Camilo Montoya-Galvez contributed to this report. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.