December 8, 2019

Migrant children: Trump speaks of plan to halt separations

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From BBC

US President Donald Trump has promised action to “keep families together” amid fury over separations of undocumented child migrants from adults.

“I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that,” he told reporters at the .

The Department of Homeland Security has reportedly drafted an executive order to stop the policy, though its wording and scope is unclear.

earlier urged lawmakers to pass a bill ending family separations.

The Republican president also wants immigration laws to be toughened under any such legislation.

Mr Trump added that he was postponing the bipartisan congressional picnic scheduled for Thursday “because it didn’t feel right to me”.

Earlier, Republican congressional leader Paul Ryan said the House of Representatives will vote on Thursday “on legislation to keep families together”.

“We do not want children taken away from their parents,” he said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
“We can enforce our immigration laws without breaking families apart.”

He did not immediately provide details of the bill, but said that it resolves the issue of so-called Dreamers, undocumented adult migrants who entered the US as children, “in a very elegant way”.

Why the uproar?

In April, the US attorney general announced a “zero-tolerance” policy to criminally charge and jail undocumented border crossers.

As migrant children cannot legally be jailed with their parents, they are kept in separate facilities.

US immigration officials say 2,342 children were separated from 2,206 parents between 5 May and 9 June.

Pictures of dozens of children sleeping in fenced enclosures and audio of crying children emerged in recent days, provoking the widespread criticism.

Babies and toddlers have been sent to three “tender age” shelters maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Under previous US administrations, immigrants caught crossing the border for the first time tended to be issued with court summonses and released.

What has international reaction been?

There has been global outrage at the US policy, rolled out last month, of separating migrant families at its border with Mexico.

The UK and Canadian prime ministers, Theresa May and , both called it “wrong”.

Pope Francis said he supported US Catholic bishops who said it was “immoral”.

French far-right leader , who in the past has praised Mr Trump’s policy of curbing immigration, told French TV that she disagreed with splitting children from parents.

On Tuesday Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso said the practice was “cruel and inhuman”.

Why this policy?
By Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter

Administration officials have offered conflicting explanations for the harrowing details of crying children kept in fenced-in rooms and despondent parents, but Mr Trump’s dual goals appear clear.

One reason is leverage. He wants to force Democrats in Congress to negotiate a legislative package that keeps migrant families intact in exchange for full funding for his much-touted border wall, speedier deportation of undocumented aliens and sweeping changes to legal immigration policy.

His other incentive comes from knowing that this could be a winning mid-term election issue. Even if he fails to get a deal, it will motivate his base to turn out in support of Republicans across the country.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, while 91% of Democrats and 68% of independents oppose separating asylum-seekers and others in the US illegally from their children, 55% of Republicans support it.

IMAGES:
Children in a tent city in Texas Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption Children are seen inside a recently erected tent city in Texas

For more on this story and video go to: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44552852

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