Published: Fri, June 22, 2018

Trump backs down on separating immigrant children, legal problems remain

Trump backs down on separating immigrant children, legal problems remain

Former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both denounced the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policy that is contributing to the high number of children being separated from their families by the USA government once they illegally cross the border.

Meanwhile Trump has been accused of using the children as political pawns to force Democrats to sign tougher immigration laws.

Until now, however, it's been unknown where they are.

Wednesday's order included the caveat that immigration authorities will not detain families together if "there is a concern that detention of an alien child with the child's alien parent would pose a risk to the child's welfare".

Earlier on Tuesday, the president tried again to blame Democrats for what he called "loopholes" in the law that require families detained for entering the country illegally either to be separated or released.

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together.

Wednesday's move was the most significant policy reversal by Trump since he took office in January 2017. "We have to prove it - through our policies, our laws, our actions, and our votes". The House Republicans' national campaign chairman, Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, said in a statement Monday that he's asking "the administration to stop needlessly separating children from their parents".

McConnell said all Republicans in the upper chamber are in favor of stopping immigrant children from being separated from their parents at the border. "But at the same time I think you have to understand we are keeping families together, but we have to keep our borders strong".

Addressing Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence spoke publicly on the issue for the first time at the meeting, ultimately echoing Mr. Trump's call for Congress to address family separation by a more permanent means.

"We have to get the Democrats to go ahead and work with us because as a result of Democrat-supported loopholes in our federal laws, most illegal immigrant families and minors from Central America who arrive unlawfully at the border can not be detained together or removed together - only released", he said.

Without Democratic support, Republicans can not muster the 60 votes needed to move forward on legislation.

Obama officials have repeatedly denied separating parents from their children. Public outcry is mounting over the family separations, but so far, there's no clear roadmap for Thursday voting on the emotional issue dividing Republicans.

"We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally", he said.

The "compromise" measure also includes a provision that aims to keep families together in immigration-detention facilities while parents are prosecuted criminally under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy. The chorus of condemnation includes Democrats, as well as Republicans, who are increasingly anxious that reports about bereft children taken from their parents could damage the GOP's chances in November.

"They really would like to have open borders where they can just flow in", Mr. Trump said of congressional Democrats.

"I'll be signing something in a little while that's going to do that", Trump said on Wednesday morning.

But the chances of the bill passing are unclear as is the case with any bill dealing with the volatile issue of immigration.

Former President Barack Obama weighed in on the family separation crisis Wednesday, calling on Americans to "find a way to welcome the refugee and the immigrant".

Decrying "internment camps", Democrats and their supporters disrupted a US congressional hearing on Tuesday about an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe.

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