The Latest: Border Protection halts prosecution referrals

The Associated Press

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents (all times local):

12:55 p.m.

The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection says he has temporarily stopped referring for criminal prosecution adults who cross the border illegally with children.

Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters in Texas Monday he ordered referrals suspended within hours of President Trump’s executive order last week that stopped the practice of separating families.

He says that the zero tolerance policy remains in effect, but cases cannot be prosecuted because parents cannot be separated from their children.

He says he is working to develop plan to resume illegally entry prosecutions of adults with children.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in Reno, Nevada that federal prosecutors would continue to criminally prosecute adults caught crossing the border.

But Border Patrol agents must refer cases for prosecution.

More than 2,300 children were separated from their families before the order last week that is causing chaos at the border on how to implement it.


12:05 p.m.

A temporary tent shelter set up in far west Texas for immigrant children is close to its 360-person capacity.

Reporters were allowed Monday to briefly visit the shelter at the Tornillo border crossing, where more than 320 children ages 13 to 17 are being held.

About half are from Guatemala, and 23 of the children had been separated from adults who accompanied them across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The facility has a current capacity of 360. The tents are air conditioned, and a facility administrator told reporters that the main complaint he hears from children on site is that the tents get too cold sometimes.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, boys and girls are kept in separate tents and use separate bathrooms and showers.

Reporters weren’t allowed to enter any tents holding children. Two girls who stopped briefly in front of reporters said that they were doing well.


12 p.m.

A Democratic lawmaker says an eastern Kansas nonprofit that has a contract with the federal government to care for unaccompanied minors is caring for 44 immigrant youth, nine of them under the age of 12.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward and former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom are working to reunite the children with their parents.

Grissom has assembled a team of 10 lawyers to provide legal services to the children.

Grissom says they have been led to believe some of the children were separated from parents in a crackdown on illegal crossings of the U.S-Mexico border, but that is not confirmed.

Grissom, Ward, state officials and officials from The Villages, which operates five group homes home on a 400-acre (162-hectare) site outside Topeka, are set to meet on the issue Wednesday.


11:55 a.m.

A Democratic congresswoman says children as young as 4 and 5 are among a group of 22 unaccompanied migrant children being held in a Catholic Charities facility south of Miami.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz says conditions at the Monsignor Bryan Walsh Children’s Village she visited on Monday are much better than at the Homestead Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, which she toured Saturday.

That center is holding about 1,000 migrants, including 70 who’ve been separated from their parents.

President Donald Trump signed an order last week ending the policy, but many children remain separated.

Wasserman Shultz told reporters on Monday that she considers the practice of separating children from their parents “sadistic,” ”demonic,” and “outrageous.”

She noted that she saw two minor children who have newborns at the Children’s Village.


11:50 a.m.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended Trump administration immigration policies during a speech at a conference in Nevada while hundreds of protesters rallied outside.

Sessions told a convention sponsored by the National Association of School Resource Officers in Reno on Monday that the controversy over immigration is a “difficult and frustrating situation” that requires Congress to pass new legislation.

He says many children detained at the southern border were brought there by violent gang members, and that “children have indeed borne much of the burden of our broken immigration system.”

Sessions says the compassionate thing to do is protect children from violence and drugs, put criminals in jail and secure borders. He calls the alternative, open borders, “both radical and dangerous.”

No arrests were immediately reported outside, where demonstrators with signs, drums and a mariachi band waged a peaceful protest.

Some sat in a busy roadway for while police diverted traffic around the casino-hotel where Sessions was speaking.


11:25 a.m.

U.S. defense officials say the Trump administration has chosen two military bases in Texas to house detained migrants.

The officials identified the bases as Fort Bliss and Goodfellow Air Force Base and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about a pending announcement.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had said on Sunday that two bases had been selected but he would not identify them.

One official said unaccompanied children detained after crossing the U.S. border would be sheltered at one of the bases and the other base would house families of migrant detainees.

Under the arrangement, the Defense Department would provide the land but the operations would be run by other agencies.

— Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns.


11:05 a.m.

A Republican congressman says unaccompanied migrant children housed at a Catholic Charities facility in South Florida are being treated “exceptionally well” and are “happy.”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo toured Catholic Charities Boystown south of Miami Monday morning.

He says some children were in classrooms and others were on a field trip to an aquarium.

Curbelo says the “children were smiling, they were happy.”

Curbelo says he opposed President Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from family members detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. But he says the facility is doing a good job caring for 22 children.

Trump signed an executive order last week ending the policy, but many children remain separated.

Curbelo says he will work to find a permanent workable immigration policy.


11 a.m.

More than a dozen protesters are blocking a busy road in downtown Reno, Nevada, near where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is appearing to speak at a school safety conference.

The Monday morning demonstration includes several people holding a banner saying “No Human is Illegal” to call attention to Trump administration immigration policy and the separation of children and families at the U.S. border.

Reno police on bicycles have blocked traffic around the protesters near a downtown casino-hotel. Some demonstrators have promised to engage in peaceful civil disobedience and invite arrest.

Nearly two dozen Nevada groups in a progressive alliance tried last week to persuade the national school law enforcement group hosting the conference to withdraw Sessions’ invitation.

Mo Canady, executive director of the Alabama-based National Association of School Resource Officers, says that as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Sessions has important information to share.


10:45 a.m.

A team of federal law enforcement officers entered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Portland, Oregon, to secure government property as protesters continued a demonstration against Trump administration immigration policies.

Federal Protective Service spokesman Rob Sperling says officers entered the building during the early hours Monday. Protesters did not try to stop them.

Sperling says it’s a precautionary move, and there’s no indication that activists camped outside the facility have entered it.

Portland’s ICE headquarters has been the site of a round-the-clock protest since June 17. The occupation grew in size early last week and the building has been closed since Wednesday.

Sperling says there’s no time frame for when employees will return.


8:40 a.m.

A coalition of civil rights, religious and union activists opposed to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies are gearing up for a protest in Nevada outside a school safety conference where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the keynote speaker.

Several of the protesters gathering for Monday’s rally outside a hotel-casino in Reno say they will engage in civil disobedience to bring attention to the separation of children and families at the U.S. border.

At least one, Bob Fulkerson, told The Associated Press he expects to be arrested.

Nearly two dozen Nevada groups in a progressive alliance tried unsuccessfully last week to persuade the national school law enforcement group hosting the conference to withdraw its invitation to Sessions.

Mo Canady, executive director of the Alabama-based National Association of School Resource Officers, said Sessions has important information to share with school resource officers as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.


8:25 a.m.

A U.S. congressman says he was turned away from trying to meet with detainees from the southern border crisis because of a chicken pox outbreak at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports that U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Democrat, went to the prison Saturday after hearing that a number of migrants who were separated from their children after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were transferred there from another federal prison in SeaTac.

Kilmer said he had official tours set up at both facilities but that it was canceled due to protest-related safety concerns.

And when the congressman tried to visit three detainees during the regularly scheduled visiting hours on Saturday, he was told that they were all quarantined due to chicken pox exposure.


10 p.m.

A Texas charitable organization says about 30 immigrant parents separated from their children after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border have been freed into its care, but they don’t know where their kids are or when they might see them again despite government assurances that family reunification would be well organized.

The released parents arrived Sunday at Annunciation House in El Paso.

The release is believed to be the first, large one of its kind since President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that preserved a “zero-tolerance” policy for entering the country illegally but ended the practice of separating immigrant parents and children.

Annunciation House Director Ruben Garcia says the parents were brought by bus after federal authorities withdrew criminal charges.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offered no immediate comment.


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