Published: Sat, June 23, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Migrant children: U.S. battle moves to Congress

Migrant children: U.S. battle moves to Congress

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order stopping his administration's contentious policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained for illegally crossing the US border this morning.

As a crisis of migrant children separated from their families provoked national outrage, President Donald Trump said he was powerless to act through an executive order.

At the White House, Trump defended his administration's "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all migrants caught illegally entering the country, a change that has caused thousands of families to be divided while the parents are detained.

Since the announcement in early May of a policy of "zero tolerance", more than 2,300 children and young migrants, mostly fleeing the violence that ravages Central America, have been separated from their families after their arrest at the border.

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Speaker of the House of Representative Paul Ryan said it would vote today (June 21) on legislation to "keep families together".

"So we will be officially postponing the congressional picnic for tomorrow".

Almost 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the USA border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries, according to Department of Homeland Security figures obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Trump said that unnamed congressman and senators were hard at work on new legislation for a revised border protection policy. "We are keeping families together", he said.

Heart-rending images and sounds of wailing children separated from their guardians have led to a firestorm of opposition to the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration.

The family separations, highlighted by videos of youngsters detained in cages and an audiotape of wailing children, have sparked an outcry at home and strong condemnation overseas.

Kushner has been in the Middle East working on the administration's peace plan while cable news filled with emotional photos of children in cages and audio of kids crying for their parents at the Mexican border.

With no Democrat support for the bills, White House officials have been seeking to drum up support among Republicans, many of whom are wavering or openly opposed.

This certainly would go against Trump's 'America First' mantra if major USA businesses are turning against his harsher policies.

The children could not take the "expedited removal" route and their cases often took longer to resolve.

The departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to HuffPost's requests for clarification on Wednesday. A CBP official said it is up to the discretion of border agents whether to detain "tender-aged" children, who are typically less than five years old. The roll calls would let Republicans assert to voters that they tried addressing the immigration problem.

Justice Department lawyers were planning to file a challenge to the Flores settlement, which requires the government to release children from custody and to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers, in order of preference.

Trump, who once again called on Congress to deal with the immigration issue, admitted that his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka had weighed in on the decision, stressing that the issue was particularly important to them.

It's unclear when families will start being reunited with their families.

"This is a stopgap measure", said Gene Hamilton, counsel to the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Tuesday that in coming days North Korea would hand over a "sizeable number" of remains to United Nations Command in South Korea, and they would then be transferred to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

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