Trump orders halt to family separations

Trump alone to blame for family separations but entire GOP will pay

Politicians visit border amid outrage on family separation

"It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter", said Brian Marriott, senior director of communications at HHS's Administration of Children and Families. Under that policy, the administration has sought to prosecute as many border-crossing offenses as possible, including those involving families with children.

Under the "zero-tolerance" policy, anyone who crosses the USA border faces criminal prosecution, meaning parents are sent to jail while their children are put into government custody.

Meanwhile, Democrats spent Wednesday morning calling on Trump and congressional Republicans to end the policy in speeches on the House floor.

Pictures and accounts of the separations sparked outrage and a rebellion among Republicans in Trump's own party, as well as global accusation that the United States was committing human rights violations. "They would like to have open borders where anybody in the world can just flow in, including from the Middle East, from anybody, anywhere, they can just flow into our country", Trump said.

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said 2,342 children have been separated from their parents since last month. But after signalling Monday that it would oppose any fix aimed exclusively at addressing that issue, the White House said Tuesday it was reviewing the emergency legislation being introduced by Cruz to keep migrant families together. Trump's daughter Ivanka thanked her father on Twitter for "taking critical action ending family separation at our border".

"Tomorrow we're going to have a vote on legislation that makes sure we can enforce our laws and keep families together", Ryan told reporters at a weekly press briefing. It says that while the administration will "rigorously" enforce immigration laws, it is "also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources". "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated".

The news in recent days has been dominated by searing images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as audio recordings of young children crying for their parents - images that have sparked fury, questions of morality and concern from Republicans about a negative impact on their races in November's midterm elections.

"So what I'm asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since previous year, the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit", Trump said Tuesday. The language also leaves room to separate children from parents if it's best for the child's welfare.

The second option is a compromise between conservatives and Republican moderates.

The national backlash over the Trump administration's immigration policy has given Democrats an immigration focus the entire party can rally around.

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If those options are exhausted, authorities must find the "least restrictive" setting for a child who arrived without parents. Hamilton also voiced support for legislation that would allow for prolonged detention of children alongside their parents.

Trump's said the order does not alter the "zero tolerance" policy itself that the administration put in place in April.

But passage of the House bill remains in doubt even after President Donald Trump met with lawmakers this week to support an immigration fix.

"If the policy is not changed, I will support other means to stop unnecessary separation of children from their parents", he added.

More: Fact check: What's really going on with immigrant children being detained at the border?

Instead, the process requires coordination between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which holds numerous parents, and HHS, which takes custody of children and places them with adult "sponsors".

"There is complete chaos", said Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney whose organization is suing to force the government to promptly return children to their parents.

Representative Kristi Noem said Mr Trump told politicians he "would continue to support the legislation, and that people shouldn't be anxious that he would change his mind".

Democrats and Republicans had at least two bills crafted Wednesday to address broader immigration issues, but it was not clear if any had adequate support to pass.

Parents who are found to have crossed the border illegally with their children are arrested, but because the children themselves have not committed a crime, they are not allowed to stay with the parents.

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