Trump huddles with Republicans as backlash over family separations intensifies

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Gov. Bruce Rauner is taking a stand against the separation of children and parents at the southern US border.

Under the Trump administration's separation system, parents who are prosecuted and held in immigration detention to await deportation can not regain custody of their children.

"The Trump Administration must reverse its policy of prosecuting vulnerable people fleeing three of the most unsafe countries on earth, who are attempting to seek safe haven in America". Orrin Hatch of Utah, wrote the Trump administration asking it to pause the separation of immigrant families until Congress comes up with a solution.

May said images of migrant children kept in cage-like units were "deeply disturbing", and the Council of Europe, a global human rights watchdog, said Trump had abdicated any claim to moral leadership in the world.

Trump, who opened the meeting by commenting on the border situation, has been under mounting pressure to reverse the administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration enforcement policy.

The Trump administration is now seeking to amend an existing decree known as the Flores settlement in an effort to allow families to be detained together indefinitely (currently children can not be detained longer than 20 days). Claire McCaskill, picked up on Trump's talking point and blamed Democrats - without addressing the reality that the family separations are the result of a Trump administration policy and without taking a position on the policy.

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

GOP lawmakers were feeling upbeat after meeting with President Trump on Capitol Hill as haunting images of crying children separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border is sparking outrage among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said 2,342 children have been separated from their parents since last month.

The executive order, signed by Trump, asks the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together while people await trial for illegal border crossing.

Democrats have gone all-in to draw attention to the family separations.

Separation of migrant families at border stops
The House is considering two immigration bills, although neither dealt in particular with the family separation policy. Children, because of a 1997 order and related decisions, can not be detained for longer than 20 days with the adults.

The policy had led to a spike in family separations in recent weeks, with more than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

At a later campaign-style rally of supporters in the northern state of Minnesota, he reiterated that the change does not mean a softening at the border.

Trump then accused rival Democrats of putting "illegal immigrants before they put American citizens". The language also leaves room to separate children from parents if it's best for the child's welfare.

The two immigration bills under consideration in the House could address the separations, but the outlook for passage is dim. Conservatives say the compromise legislation that GOP leaders helped negotiate with moderates is inadequate.

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.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Council of Europe and Pope Francis all took issue with the "zero tolerance" policy.

Experts in child development have emphasised the trauma inflicted on the children.

"The administration still plans to criminalize families - including children - by holding them in prison-like detention facilities".

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, one of the nation's most endangered Republicans in this year's midterms, said in a statement he told Sen. A particularly harrowing account told of parents being informed that their child was being taken away for a bath - only to be told half an hour later that they would not see them again. So if the Flores settlement is successfully amended, the families caught crossing the border illegally will be detained together.

Republican lawmakers emerged from the 45-minute huddle energized that Trump was giving his backing to legislation that House leaders expect to bring to a vote this week.

The measure would also offer protections to another vulnerable group - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients - who are undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

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