The administration then treats the children as though they were unaccompanied, even though many crossed the border with their parents or a guardian.
Around 2,000 minors have been separated from their families in the past six weeks, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero tolerance policy where everyone caught crossing the border illegally will be prosecuted.
Immigrants arrested near the southwestern border are taken to processing centers where officials refer some to federal court to be prosecuted under the US criminal entry statute.
The "Keep Families Together Act" would prevent DHS from separating children from their parents unless parental rights have been terminated, a child welfare agency has issued a best interest determination or officials have approved separation due to trafficking indicators or other concerns of risk to the child, according to lawmakers.
It's an uncomfortable position for Nielsen, who is facing opposition calls to resign as condemnation pours in from the United Nations, human rights groups, and four former first ladies - all mothers - who have called the policy "cruel" and "immoral". He did not elaborate.
In an open letter, 74 former US lawyers - prosecutors appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents - argue the policy has led to the "unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children" and is a waste of resources.
ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: While Trump and Sessions definitely put this policy to work, the chief architect of the plan is White House hardliner Stephen Miller who is a virulent white nationalist and keeps a low profile while whispering his racist views in the president's ear.
"Who are these people?" asked Trump. "Can you imagine the graft that must take place?"
Democrats want the families to stay together without detaining them, and while all Senate Democrats have signed on to a bill by Sen.
"Well, no, of course you wouldn't", Burgess conceded, later adding, "when I have done these town halls previously, the sentiment has been, we want our laws on the border enforced".
Although the trauma among immigrant families is happening mostly along the Texas, Arizona and California borders with Mexico, Bay Area activists have been doing their part to express their outrage and frustration.
Trump's immigration standoff comes as he escalates his nationalist trade moves, imposing new tariffs on imports and threating more. "They could stop it".
Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray speaks at a press conference in Mexico City, June 19, 2018.
For now, Trump appears to be resolving the tension by falsely blaming Democrats for the family separation policy and arguing that they could end it by agreeing to a comprehensive immigration bill.
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a leading pro-immigration Republican, told TPM that House members were "still massaging" the legislative language to end family separation.
Trump is receiving mounting criticism for his administration's "zero-tolerance" policies that have led thousands of migrant children to be separated from their parents when they are arrested at the border. The measures would also create a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young immigrants already in the US who were brought illegally by their parents.
It contains several of Trump's main priorities, including border wall funding, protecting young "Dreamer" immigrants who were brought to the country as children and curbs on legal immigration programs such as an end to the visa lottery. "There are these numbers - numbers that sound scary but really aren't was bad as they sound - and talk about "Donald J. Trump said this" and that and so on and so forth".
The lawmaker also said Trump slammed House Republicans for not supporting him enough, asserting that some red state Democrats are nicer to him.
In the House, GOP leaders scrambled Tuesday to produce a revised version of the broader immigration bill that would keep children in detention longer than now permitted - but with their parents.
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