Wednesday 20 June 2018

US House to vote on bill to end family separations at Mexican border, Paul Ryan reveals

Reports suggest Donald Trump might tackle the crisis with an executive order

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said the US House of Representatives is set to vote on legislation that would keep families together.

“We are going to take action to keep families together while we enforce our immigration laws,” Mr Ryan said.

Amid mounting controversy over Donald Trump's policy of separating migrant children from their parents if they seek to enter the country illegally - a policy that has triggered international disgust and condemnation - Mr Ryan said the house was ready to vote on Thursday on a bill would halt separations.

He said while people would still be prosecuted for attempting an illegal crossing, families would remain together in Department of Homeland Security custody “throughout the length of their legal proceedings”.

He added that DHS would also get monetary support to keep families together.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Trump told Republicans he was “1,000 per cent” behind efforts to pass immigration legislation and would sign either of two bills they were working on.

Members of Congress are trying to fulfil the president’s demand for immigration reform while bringing an end to the controversy caused by his administration’s “zero tolerance” stance towards migrants and asylum seekers entering the country without permission. 

Since a new policy introduced in May by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, all people entering the country without papers have been charged with a federal crime. Since their children cannot legally be taken to jail, they have been detained elsewhere, in tent camps and cages established in facilities close to the border.

Images and recordings of very young children crying for their parents while housed in cages and sleeping under foil blankets have galvanised opposition to Mr Trump’s policy, leading to protests – including against homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who was disturbed by cries of “Shame!” as she ate at a Mexican restaurant on Tuesday.

Mr Trump is clearly feeling the heat on the issue. According to a Fox News reporter, the president is considering taking executive action on Wednesday that would allow children to stay with detained immigrant parents through the adjudication process.

“Sources say Admin believes it is likely to draw a court challenge on the basis of Flores v Reno,“ the reporter said, referring to a 1997 settlement agreement setting standards for the treatment of immigrant minors.

(Source: The Independent)

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