Donald Trump and Republican leaders scramble for migrant children solution

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"To watch those families broken apart in real time puts to us a very simple question: are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents' arms, or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?" he said.

Former president Barack Obama broke his silence on Wednesday - World Refugee Day - on immigrant families who have forced to be separated when entering the country at the southern border.

The Trump administration separated more than 2,000 children from their parents since early May, garnering overwhelming backlash from the public. Orrin Hatch of Utah, wrote the Trump administration asking it to pause the separation of immigrant families until Congress comes up with a solution. "Children belong with their families", he said.

In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018.

The Trump administration is now seeking to amend an existing decree known as the Flores settlement in an effort to allow families to be detained together indefinitely (currently children can not be detained longer than 20 days).

But it's not like we can talk - in a notorious phone call between PM Malcolm Turnbull and Trump shortly after his inauguration, Trump labelled Australia's detention of asylum seekers a "good idea", saying "we should do that too".

"This runs the risk of undercutting the progress Republicans have made with these independent, suburban women who were already turned off by some of the President's rhetoric", said one Republican strategist working on midterm races.

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It was not immediately clear what the president would be signing. "There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases", Health and Human Services Department spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe said.

Under previous presidents, families of immigrants crossing the border without official paperwork tended to be issued with summonses for court, rather than be detained and split up.

"We're advancing the cause even if something doesn't necessarily pass", Ryan told reporters Thursday morning. It says that while the administration will "rigorously" enforce immigration laws, it is "also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources".

Trump has continually falsely blamed Democrats for laws he said required the separation of migrant families, though no law requires family separation and the zero-tolerance policy was implemented by his administration alone.

At a later campaign-style rally of supporters in the northern state of Minnesota, he reiterated that the change does not mean a softening at the border.

The two immigration bills under consideration in the House could address the separations, but the outlook for passage is dim. Conservatives say the compromise legislation that GOP leaders helped negotiate with moderates is inadequate.

From March to May this year, more than 50,000 people a month were apprehended for illegally crossing the border from Mexico.

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Because the Justice Department can't prosecute children along with their parents, the result of the zero-tolerance policy has been a sharp rise in the number of children detained separately.

The issue struck an emotional chord, with accounts of children screaming and crying in facilities prepared for them.

"This isn't who we are", he said in a statement.

And members on the fence over pending immigration legislation headed to the White House to meet with Trump. A particularly harrowing account told of parents being informed that their child was being taken away for a bath - only to be told half an hour later that they would not see them again.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday morning that the House will vote on immigration legislation, despite signs that the bills up for consideration can not pass.

Both bills include language to end the controversial White House policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border. So if the Flores settlement is successfully amended, the families caught crossing the border illegally will be detained together. "It is an ineffective deterrent against illegal immigration, and children should not have to face traumatic ordeals given the actions of their parents".

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