President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that reverses a policy forcibly separating more than 2,300 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, but House GOP leaders are still trying to get hesitant party members to agree to a measure to resolve broader immigration issues. A vote is expected Thursday. Democrats have seized the opportunity to highlight yet another one of the Trump administration’s self-inflicted wounds, but die-hard Trump supporters see no issues with the president’s about-face.
A look at the latest developments:
CAN REPUBLICANS FIX IMMIGRATION?
House GOP leaders have been working furiously to get reluctant Republicans on board in hopes of resolving broader immigration issues ahead of the November midterm elections.
But the sweeping House GOP immigration overhaul looked uncertain at best as lawmakers struggled to move past an issue that has become politically fraught amid the dire images and audio of families being separated at the border.
Passage of the bill was always a long shot, but failure may now come at a steeper price as Republicans — and Trump — have raised expectations that, as the party in control of Congress and the White House, they can fix the nation’s long-standing immigration problems.
Ahead of voting Thursday, the results of the outreach were mixed.
“We have a chance,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. “It won’t be easy.”
NEW GUIDELINES CAUSE CONCERN, CONFUSION
Trump on Wednesday said he didn’t like seeing families separated at the Mexico border and reversed the policy that has already separated more than 2,300 children from their parents, sparking worldwide outrage.
But there is confusion over how the new guidelines will play out and concern that they don’t go far enough, allowing children to still be held in detention even if they remain with their families.
Peter Schey, the lawyer in a lawsuit that resulted in a key agreement governing the treatment of migrant children in detention called the Flores settlement, said he was concerned that several thousand children have already been separated from their parents “without the Trump administration having any effective procedures in place to reunite children with their parents, many of whom have already been deported.”
Officials have said they are working to reunite families as soon as possible but have provided no clear answers on how that will happen.
ABOUT FACE, BUT WHY?
In the face of mounting bipartisan criticism and amid heartbreaking tales of toddlers kept from their parents, Trump reversed a family-separation policy Wednesday that he first said only Congress could solve.
White House officials, advocates and congressional leaders were blindsided when word emerged that Trump was considering doing precisely what he’d forcefully claimed he couldn’t do — act unilaterally to quell a growing humanitarian and political crisis.
Brookings Institution senior fellow Bill Galston, a presidential scholar and a Clinton White House official, described it as “classic blame shifting” and said the president was in an “unsustainable position and would like to be bailed out of it without having to admit fault.”
PRESIDENT’S SUPPORTERS STEADFAST
As heart-wrenching photos of children held in cages and audio of terrified children crying out for their parents stoked outrage among Democrats and Republicans alike, die-hard Trump supporters remained steadfast .
Richard Klabechek of Oak Grove, Minnesota, who attended the president’s rally Wednesday evening in Duluth, said he was unmoved by the audio of crying children, saying it was “the media playing the heartstrings of the public.”
Supporters said they believed Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s false claims that they had no choice but to enforce an existing law.
When Trump reversed course amid international outrage and signed an executive order on Wednesday to end forced separations on his own, they shrugged and blamed Congress. The end, they suggested, justified the means.
DEMOCRATS HIGHLIGHT IMMIGRATION FAILURE
Democrats have seized on the latest crisis in the White House, fighting to ensure that Trump’s separation of migrant children from their families at the border is not quickly forgotten.
Democratic leaders across the county met Trump’s executive order to stop dividing immigrant families with deep skepticism, promising waves of protests, border visits and congressional oversight to shine new light on the Republican administration’s immigration tactics.
The kitchen-sink approach comes as Democrats work to sustain the energy of the Trump resistance heading into this fall’s midterm elections when the GOP’s House and Senate majorities are at stake.
“I’m still on the highest level of alert. I still think we’re in a state of national crisis,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told The Associated Press in an interview.
CLAIMS OF ABUSE AT VIRGINIA JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER
In federal court filings, immigrant children as young as 14 say they suffered abuse, including beatings while handcuffed, at a juvenile detention center in Virginia.
The abuse claims against the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, include a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino teens jailed there for months or years.
“Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,” said a Honduran immigrant who was sent to the facility when he was 15 years old. “Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move. … They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head.”
In court filings, lawyers for the detention facility have denied all allegations of physical abuse.
Many of the children were sent there after U.S. immigration authorities accused them of belonging to violent gangs, including MS-13.
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