But the president has also suggested using family separation as a negotiating tool, refusing to reverse the policy unless Democrats agree to his other immigration reform priorities, like funding his "big, handsome wall" at the southern border. White House reporters hammered Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday as she insisted the administration had no choice in the matter and was merely following the law. But advocates say it's not that simple.
Texas' Rio Grande Valley is the busiest area for people trying to enter the country. There are sometimes 80 of them in the same hearing.
The President claimed it was costing taxpayer money to allow illegal immigrants in the country and also that child smugglers were misusing the laws. "That's the simple, easiest and most likely way this will happen". Immigrants are not "them", they are "us". At this point, lawyers with the civil rights group often lose access to the detainees.
This means parents are sent for federal court proceedings and separated from their children, who can not be jailed under USA law. Of about 2,000 children separated from parents in the past six weeks about 100 are under the age of 4 years. Some are illiterate and don't know how to spell the children's names.
While Mr Trump held firm to his tough immigration stance in an earlier appearance on Tuesday, he acknowledged during the closed-door meeting that the coverage of family separations was taking a toll.
But it's not clear that's working. The media has seized on the practice, highlighting heartbreaking images and audio of crying children to amplify their activism for a return to more relaxed enforcement.
None of the seven Illinois House Republicans - Peter Roskam; Randy Hultgren; Adam Kinzinger; Darin LaHood; Rodney Davis; Michael Bost and John Shimkus - would sign that petition - to allow up or down votes on a measure to help "Dreamers", youths in the USA illegally through no fault of their own. And he described his late-afternoon session with House Republicans as them briefing him on their two bills, even though he has staff for that.
Under the "zero-tolerance" crackdown that the Trump administration rolled out in May, all border crossers - include first-time offenders - are criminally charged and jailed pending trial.
Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, an organization that bills itself as "a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive", acknowledged that it can be "harmful and traumatic" to take a child away from parents. Their children are then classified as "unaccompanied minors" and are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement.
He also again made the case for a border wall: "We have no wall".
Some crossers are motivated by poverty or they seek refuge with family here. Just a reminder that if POTUS actually wanted to help these kids from being ripped from their parents, he could. "This isn't hard", said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union.
On Tuesday, Olivares' team had seven people left to interview with five minutes left.
The administration argues it is necessary to prosecute illegal border crossers to keep them in government custody and make sure they are deported. Cornyn said they want to keep families together while still "expediting their ability" to go before an immigration judge.
Former first lady Laura Bush called out the administration's practices, comparing the children to those who were placed in kennels at Japanese internment camps during World War II.
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