AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Congressman Michael McCaul said the family separation policy for immigrants who enter the United States illegally — enforced by President Donald Trump’s administration — will be a “black mark” on American history.

“The family separation I think was the wrong policy,” McCaul said Monday. “I don’t think that’s the face of America and I think it will go down in history as a black mark. I don’t think we should be doing that.”

McCaul made the remarks at a luncheon hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in Austin. He was responding to a point about solving refugee crises by looking at the root cause of why people are fleeing their home countries for life in the United States.

“We don’t want to just pour money into corrupt governments, we’ve got to do this smart, from a taxpayer standpoint, but one of my goals of this Congress is to really address the root cause of why they are coming up,” McCaul said. 

“Why are all these children coming up to the United States? I know why they are and if they are running from gangs and violence and poverty that has to change,” he said. “We need to be a partner with them to help make that change.”

The event also featured Barbara Stephenson, former Ambassador to Panama and current President of the American Foreign Service Association, as well as Bill Lane, executive director of Trade for America, formerly of Caterpillar.

Texas Association of Business CEO Jeff Moseley also delivered remarks, saying Texas believes in a “peace through trade” approach. Moseley said 900,000 Texas jobs are made possible because of trade with Mexico.

The panel discussed trade relations with other countries and the value of working relationships with our state’s trading partners.

As a leader, the United States can make such a difference. If we become isolationists and we don’t lead then we fail and the world fails,” said McCaul, a Republican who represents most of Central Texas between Austin, College Station, and Houston. “And if we cut our budget, which I’m opposed to, then we are going to have to do with (former Defense) Secretary (James) Mattis so eloquently said and that is buy more ammunition and bullets.”