President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday worked on a plan to reunite separated families, and detained parents struggled to get in touch with their children, some of whom were being held hundreds of miles away. Trump himself took a hard line on the crisis, accusing the Democrats of telling “phoney stories of sadness and grief.” A look at the latest developments:
CONFUSION ON THE BORDER
Trump’s order to stop separating migrant children from their parents spread confusion along the border, with officials sending conflicting signals about the state of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
Some parents said they did not even know where their children were. Others said they had been deported without them.
A senior administration official said that about 500 of the more than 2,300 children taken from their families at the border in recent weeks have been reunited since May.
There were also signs that the administration was dialing back, at least for now, its “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all adults caught crossing into the U.S. illegally.
The federal public defender’s office for the region that covers El Paso to San Antonio said Thursday that federal prosecutors would be dismissing cases in which parents were charged with illegally entering the country and separated from their children.
The Justice Department denied that the policy had been rolled back.
TRUMP PUSHES BACK AGAINST FUROR
The president hit back against the storm of criticism over the forced separations by highlighting the plight of Americans whose loved ones were killed by people who entered the country illegally.
He blasted media coverage of the images of children separated from their parents at the southern border.
“You hear the other side. You never hear this side,” Trump said.
Trump focused on families whose loved ones have been killed, not temporarily separated. “The word you have to think about is ‘permanently,'” he said.
PRESIDENT TELLS GOP TO ABANDON IMMIGRATION REFORM
Trump told fellow Republicans in Congress to “stop wasting their time” on immigration legislation until after the November elections.
GOP leaders said they would press on anyway, but his comments further damaged their attempt to win over wavering lawmakers for a measure already facing likely defeat.
Trump’s tweet on immigration legislation was the latest example of his abrupt reversals on issues, to the dismay of Republicans who crave his backing as a seal of approval for conservative voters. Just Tuesday, he met privately with GOP lawmakers and told them he supported the immigration legislation and would have their backs in November.
SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS AFTER ABUSE CLAIMS
Virginia’s two Democratic senators asked the Trump administration for answers about operations at a juvenile detention facility in the state where immigrant children said they were bound, beaten and isolated in solitary confinement.
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent to the head of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement questions about the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. The Associated Press reported Thursday that six Latino teens had made sworn statements detailing severe abuse they said they endured between 2015 and 2018, under both the Obama and Trump administrations. In court filings, lawyers for the detention facility have denied all allegations of physical abuse.
The senators asked whether regulators had received any past complaints involving the facility located near Staunton, Virginia. The Democrats also want to know whether there is a system in place to discipline staff members who abuse children in federal custody.
MOTHER AND SON REUNITED
A 7-year-old boy and his mother, who were separated a month ago, were reunited Friday after she sued in federal court and the Justice Department agreed to release the child.
They were reunited at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland, hours after the government relented.
The mother, Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, had filed for political asylum after crossing the border with her son, Darwin, following a trek from Guatemala. She said that she cried when the two were reunited and that she is never going to be away from him again.
See AP’s complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the border: https://apnews.com/tag/Immigration .