United States separates 2000 children from parents at Mexico border

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The Trump administration has said it is simply enforcing the law, and has blamed Democrats, an explanation that Democrats have rejected. Even after Kelly stopped talking publicly about family separation, the Department of Homeland Security quietly tested the approach last summer in certain areas in Texas. Democratic candidates running for vulnerable Republican seats also have begun to make the harsh treatment of children a centerpiece of their campaigns.

US religious leaders have castigated the policy.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who delivered a prayer at Trump's inauguration, signed a letter calling the practice "horrible". The US administration claims they will be reunited as soon as possible after their parents have been dealt with and their sentences served; but some of those working within the immigration system claim the onus is on the families to fight for their children's return. There is no law requiring immigrant parents and children be separated at the border.

White House officials are unable to cite any part of USA law that dictates the separations, which were initiated in April after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced "zero tolerance" for unlawful border crossings. "The thinking in the building is to force people to the table". "The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law", said White House adviser Stephen Miller in an interview published Saturday in The New York Times.

In some cases, parents appear to have been told their children were being taken away to the toilet only for them to disappear.

Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have struggled to craft a viable immigration plan.

Trump administration officials have argued that the policy is in place because Democrats won't agree to negotiate stricter immigration laws. We need a wall.

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Some Republican immigration hard-liners, however, continue to hold out, saying they will not support any path to citizenship and do not support any accommodations to keep families together. "They want them to be left alone", he said. 'If he can't [acknowledge] that, I'll go tell him 'if you don't like families being supported, you can tell DHS to stop doing it'. Almost 2,000 children were removed from the care of their parents and taken into federal custody between April 19 and May 31, an immigration official said Friday. "They never expected the bill to pass".

And Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said on CNN on Friday that Trump could end the separate practice.

For more than a decade, even as illegal immigration levels fell overall, seasonal spikes in unauthorized border crossings had bedevilled US presidents in both political parties, prompting them to cast about for increasingly aggressive ways to discourage migrants from making the trek. "Hell no, they're going to come back looking for their kids".

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions discusses a new Justice Department initiative on religious liberty during an event at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center's Annual Leadership Mission to DC in Washington, U.S., June 13, 2018. Those migrants had avoided detention during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

At one point during the White House briefing, a correspondent for Playboy magazine excoriated Sanders, asking her if as a mother of three she did not have any empathy for children being ripped apart from their parents. Thus, it is Sessions' policy that directly caused the separations.

The officials on the call said the stricter standards would also apply to the initial screening process to determine whether immigrants crossing the border have a "credible fear" of returning to their home countries.