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UPDATE: Trump Signs Order To End Family Separations

An official with Health and Human Services says the more than 2,300 children separated from their parents at the border as a result of a zero-tolerance policy on illegal crossings won’t be immediately reunited with their families.

President Donald Trump sits at this desk in the Oval Office with DHS Secretary Kristin Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence prior to signing an executive order on immigration policy at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2018.

THE LATEST on immigration legislation:

Governor Greg Abbott.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is asking Texas’ congressional delegation to find bipartisan solutions to immigrant children being separated from their parents after illegally crossing the U.S. border, saying, “This disgraceful condition must end.”

In a letter Wednesday to the state’s 36 House members and two senators, Abbott said, “It can only end with action by Congress to reform the broken immigration system.”

Texas Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have proposed fixes, as has Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Abbott added that Texans “are not fooled by the partisan divide on this issue” and that “a bill fixing the problem” will only clear the Senate with Republican and Democratic support.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending the policy separating the children from their parents.

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President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to keep families together at the southern border, saying at the White House that he doesn’t like the sight of children being separated from their families.

He said, “We are keeping families together.”

But the president added the “zero tolerance” policy will continue.

Vice President Mike Pence added that they are calling upon Congress to change the laws. Trump adds that the word “compassion” comes into it.

Trump has been trying to win over congressional support on immigration amid a crisis along the border involving the separation of immigrant children from their families.

Click HERE to read the executive order. 

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An official with Health and Human Services says the more than 2,300 children separated from their parents at the border as a result of a zero-tolerance policy on illegal crossings won’t be immediately reunited with their families.

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the department’s Administration for Children and Families, says their cases will proceed through the system.

The children who are separated from their families are turned over to HHS within 72 hours and are then categorized as unaccompanied minors who are eventually placed with sponsors. Officials have said they were working to reunite families as soon as possible but provided no clear answers on how that was going to happen.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that stopped the separations.

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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, along with a group of Republican Senators led by Sen. Thom Tillis and Ted Cruz, introduced the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act to end the separation of immigrant parents and children at the border. 

“Treating these families with compassion by allowing them to remain together and enforcing the laws on our books don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation allows children to stay with their parents while they await their court proceedings in a separate, safe facility. The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act is a solution everyone can get behind, and I urge Democrats to join our efforts so we can end this crisis quickly.”

Background on the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act:

  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to keep immigrant families together at residential centers pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings.
  • Sets mandatory standards of care for family residential centers.
  • Authorizes over 200 new immigration judges and requires the DHS Secretary and Attorney General to expedite the court proceedings of children and families.
  • Keeps children safe by requiring a child be removed from the care of an individual in the following cases:
    • The individual presents a clear danger to the health and safety of the child;
    • DHS cannot verify that the individual is actually the parent of the child;
    • The parent of the child has a violent history of committing aggravated felonies;
    • The child has been a victim of sexual or domestic abuse; or
    • The child has been a victim of trafficking.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress on immigration in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Washington. From left, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Trump, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

First Lady Melania Trump “has been making her opinion known” to her husband that he needs to do all he can to keep families of migrants together.

A White House official said the First Lady has been encouraging President Donald Trump “for some time now,” to “do all he could to help families stay together, whether it was by working with Congress or anything he could do on his own.”

Trump said Wednesday he would sign an executive order to end family separation at the border, reversing his insistence this week that Congress had to act to solve the growing crisis.

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American Airlines said it asked the Trump administration not to put migrant children who have been separated from their parents on its flights.

In a statement Wednesday, American said it doesn’t know whether any migrant children have been on its flights and doesn’t want to profit from the current immigration policy of separating families.

American and other airlines have contracts to provide travel services to the U.S. government. American says, however, that the government doesn’t provide information about the passengers or their reason for travel.

In recent days several flight attendants have gone on social media to report seeing groups of children on their flights whom they believed to be children separated from their migrant families.

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he’ll believe that President Trump is actually reversing his family-separation policy only after he sees the details.

The former Democratic presidential candidate told the Associated Press on Wednesday that people would have to be “very naive to believe just what (Trump) says.” Sanders said that’s because the Republican president and his lieutenants “lie all the time.”

He noted that Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for the policy of separating children from their parents if they’re caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Yet Trump’s Wednesday promise to sign an executive order keeping families together proves he had the power all along to resolve the issue himself.

Sanders said: “I’m glad to hear the news, but again, just because he says something doesn’t mean to say it’s going to be the case. We have to see the details.”

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President Donald Trump said he’ll be signing something “in a little while” to address the spike in the number of migrant children being separated from their families at the border.

Trump said during a White House meeting with members of Congress that, “We want to keep families together.”

The comments come amid news that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been working on executive action that would end the separation process.

Trump also told reporters that he plans to cancel the annual congressional picnic, saying: “It doesn’t feel right to have a picnic for Congress.”

He added that: “We want to solve this immigration problem.”

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British Prime Minister Theresa May said the United States is wrong to separate migrant children from their parents, but has rejected calls to cancel next month’s visit to Britain by President Donald Trump.

May said Wednesday that images of children in cages were “deeply disturbing. This is wrong. This is not something that we agree with.”

Opposition lawmakers rebuked May for not criticizing the Trump administration in stronger terms.

Trump is due to meet May and Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Britain on July 13.

May said Britain and the United States had a “special, long and enduring relationship,” and she had “a range of issues” to discuss with Trump.

She said the close U.K.-U.S. bond meant “when we disagree with what they are doing, we say so.”

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, walks with President Donald Trump as they head to a meeting of House Republicans to discuss a GOP immigration bill at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the U.S. policy of separating child migrants from their parents at the U.S-Mexico border and detaining them is “unacceptable” and “wrong.”

Trudeau said Wednesday this is “not the way we do things in Canada” and said he cannot imagine what the families involved are enduring.

Trudeau is risking the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump who has verbally attacked the Canadian prime minister of late over trade.

Trudeau made the remarks in Parliament when asked about the U.S. policy by journalists.

He has been careful not to criticize U.S. policy in the past.

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joined by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., left, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, faces reporters following a closed-door conference with fellow Republicans after they met last night with President Donald Trump to discuss a GOP immigration bill, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Speaker Paul Ryan says the House will vote Thursday on GOP immigration bills, but he offered no back-up plan to bring an end to family separations at the border if the measure fails to pass.

“Right now we’re focused on getting this bill passed,” Ryan told reporters.

He says the compromise bill negotiated between Republican conservatives and moderates “is Plan B.”

The speaker said he does not support separating parents from children and wants families detained together.

But passage of the House bill remains in doubt even after President Donald Trump met with lawmakers this week to support an immigration fix. GOP leaders have struggled to rally support from Republicans. And some lawmakers said Trump should give a more full-throated endorsement of the leadership-backed bill.

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The head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is invoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks to defend separating families at the U.S. southern border.

Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan tells Fox News’ “Fox & Friends”: “I see a lot of tweets from New York congressmen. How soon they forget what happened in New York at the hands of people in the country illegally.”

The 9/11 hijackers were in the country legally.

Homan did correctly note that the “vast majority” of children currently in U.S. custody crossed the border without family members. At issue, however, is the spike of children in custody resulting from family separations.

After the administration announced this spring it would prosecute every illegal border crossing, some 2,000 children were separated from their families.

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The Senate’s No. 2 Republican says Democrats “like the narrative” of immigrant families being separated at the southern border amid mounting criticism over the forced separation of children from their parents as they seek to enter the country illegally.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn says Democrats risk a backlash if they oppose Republican efforts to address the problem in Congress.

Cornyn told reporters Wednesday that Democrats “are conflicted, because they like the narrative” of blaming President Donald Trump for separating families. But he said Democrats “are going to be challenged to try to fix the problem, and if they don’t appear to be willing to meet us halfway I think their using this for partisan purposes will be exposed.”

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Veteran Republican strategist Steve Schmidt is renouncing his membership in the Republican Party, in light of the political tempest over the Trump administration immigration policy that separates children from their parents.

Via Twitter, the senior strategist to 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain says he became a member of a party founded to oppose slavery “and stand for the dignity of human life.”

Schmidt then says: “Today, I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.”

Schmidt, who also advised President George W. Bush and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been a reliable critic of President Donald Trump. He recently said Trump “beclowned himself” with his criticism of U.S. allies during the recent G-7 summit in Canada.

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Mexico’s governmental human rights commission says the Trump administration policy of separating families at the border is “appalling and immoral.”

Commission President Luis Gonzalez Perez on Wednesday called the Trump administration cruel and said the policy is hurting children. Gonzalez Perez urged the nations of Central America — whose migrants are disproportionately affected by the policy — to speak out.

Gonzalez Perez also said that Mexico has to live up to the same standard of humane treatment of migrants that it demands from the United States.

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President Donald Trump says on Twitter he is “working on something” related to immigration following his Tuesday night meeting with House Republicans.

Trump is again placing blame on Democrats, asserting that “they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation.” The president’s party, the Republicans, control both chambers in Congress.

He writes, “Republicans want security. But I am working on something – it never ends!”

Republican leaders in the House are trying to put together an immigration bill that would keep immigrant children in detention indefinitely, but housed with their parents.

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About two dozen immigrant children have joined Democratic lawmakers on the House floor as the lawmakers decry the separation of families at the border.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas says the detaining of children separately from parents who have crossed the border illegally is child abuse. She says “please, please let our children go to their families.”

The criticism follows Democratic lawmakers confronting President Donald Trump when he visited the Capitol the day before, yelling “stop separating our families!”

But Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says he is heartened by the debate because he is seeing Americans “standing up for children, standing up for those who are in need.”

As Gutierrez spoke, his microphone was cut off because lawmakers and children gathered around him as he spoke. That was considered a breach of decorum.

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Pope Francis is criticizing the Trump administration’s immigration policy, telling a news reporter earlier this week that he agrees with U.S. Catholic bishops that separating children from their parents at a border is “immoral.”

Continuing his criticism Wednesday, he tweeted: “A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity.”

Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has quoted the Bible in defending the policy, which calls for every person who crosses the border illegally to be prosecuted and detained. The result has been more than 2,000 children detained without a guardian and no clear plan on how the families will be reunited.

Pope Francis told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview Sunday that he agrees with recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents “contrary to our Catholic values.” He said “it’s not easy, but populism is not the solution.”

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About a dozen protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about the Trump administration’s immigration policy as she ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.

The protesters entered MXDC Cocina Mexicana Tuesday and chanted “Shame!” and “End family separation!”

In a video posted on Facebook by Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, the protesters yelled, “if kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.”

Nielsen paid her bill and left after about 10 or 15 minutes.

A department spokesman tweeted that during a work dinner, the secretary and her staff heard from a small group of protesters who “share her concern with our current immigration laws.”

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House Republican leaders searching for a way to tamp down the controversy over family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border are getting little clear direction from President Donald Trump.

Trump visited the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss immigration, and told House Republicans he is behind their rival immigration bills “1,000 percent.” Whether Trump’s support can push any immigration measure through the divided GOP majority remains a question.

Republican lawmakers are increasingly fearful of a voter backlash in November. They met with Trump with hopes of finding a solution that holds to his hard-line immigration policy and ends the practice of taking migrant children from parents charged with entering the country illegally.

As Trump left the session, a half-dozen House Democrats confronted him and yelled, “Stop separating our families!”

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