Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Trump huddles with Republicans as backlash over family separations intensifies

Tears Akemi Vargas addresses a rally PIC AP Fury as Trump says migrants ‘infesting’ U.S. by Daniel Binns Published
Lisa Bryan | 23 June, 2018, 04:52

Leaders in both the House and Senate are struggling to shield the party's politicians from the public outcry over images of children taken from migrant parents and held in cages at the border.

Anastasia Tonello, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said the detention of families - parents and children - who pose no flight risk or danger to the community is simply "unacceptable, abrogates global responsibilities to refugees, and goes against our country's most fundamental values". Orrin Hatch of Utah, wrote the Trump administration asking it to pause the separation of immigrant families until Congress comes up with a solution.

Trump pointed to those images in his meeting, saying they'd "affect everybody" but that he was torn.

On Wednesday, Rubio introduced a bill that basically allows people who unlawfully entered to the country to be held together with their children.

Still, most Democrats are not on board with the compromise bill, which is one of two House bills on the table that funds the border wall, gives DACA recipients a path to citizenship and includes language that would keep families together.

While top officials have stood by Trump's "zero tolerance" approach, insisting children are being held in humane conditions, criticism has swelled from global rights groups, Christian evangelicals, former U.S. first ladies and the president's own Republican Party. Expanded facilities could be key, as migrant children separated from their parents are now housed by a different department, Health and Human Services.

The speaker crafted his immigration measure after weeks of tense negotiations between members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has embraced Trump's hardline immigration policies, and moderate Republicans from diverse districts who want to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S.as children. "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated".

"Right now we're focused on getting this bill passed", he said. But the implementation of "zero tolerance" by the Trump administration has led to more prosecutions and, thus, more separations. Trump vowed to end the exceptions made under this "catch and release" policy and take a much more punitive approach to all immigration.

Trump had tweeted earlier Wednesday that he was "working on something", once again blaming Democrats for refusing to support Republican legislation created to keep families detained together after they're arrested at the border.


House Republican Mario Diaz-Balart said the priority of ending the separations has been slotted into a compromise bill now under consideration and favored by GOP moderates.

Protesters walk though the streets as they protest against the Trump administration's immigration policies on June 21, 2018 in El Paso, Texas.

Under the order, the zero-tolerance policy will remain in effect.

The order also directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to seek to modify a 1997 agreement known as the Flores settlement, which bars authorities from detaining immigrant children for longer than 20 days.

Republican leaders temporarily yanked a Trump-backed immigration bill from the House floor just hours before lawmakers were supposed to vote on it, a surprise move that seemed unlikely to improve its prospects for passage. The experts cite research showing that family separation can cause long-term trauma for children.

"The administration still plans to criminalize families - including children - by holding them in prison-like detention facilities". "It's a problem that's gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations".

But the chances of the bill passing are unclear as is the case with any bill dealing with the volatile issue of immigration. "I'll be doing something that's somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation I'm sure", Trump said. Blame is also placed on the parents for putting their children in this position by illegally crossing borders with them.

The senator's bill would add more federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families, speed the processing of asylum cases and require that families that cross the border illegally be kept together, absent criminal conduct or threats to the welfare of any children.

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