Melania Trump: US should 'govern with heart' on immigration

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"If the Democrats are serious, and if a lot of Republicans are serious, they'll come together".

The number of separations has jumped since early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that all migrants illegally crossing the United States border with Mexico would be arrested, regardless of whether the adults were seeking asylum.

The president has falsely blamed Democrats for the situation, saying that he was simply enforcing a law that they had written.

The policy, set forth by President Donald Trump and implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has come under sharp criticism by lawmakers, advocates and the religious community - including some in the president's base.

Almost 2,000 migrant children - 1,995 - were separated from 1,940 adults between April 19 and May 31, after being caught illegally crossing the border, a Department of Homeland Security official told reporters during a conference call Friday.

The current policy stems from the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" towards people crossing the border illegally.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon said Sunday that President Donald Trump doesn't have to "justify" his highly criticized policy of separating parents who enter the US illegally on the southern border with Mexico from their children. "It's zero tolerance. I don't think you have to justify it", former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Sunday on ABC's "This Week".

Top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said "nobody likes" separating children from their parents and pushed back on claims the Trump administration is using the kids as a bargaining chip to get Democrats on board with increased border security.

As migrants who illegally crossed the border await trial, their children are separated from them and sent to a separate facility while their parents go through the criminal process.

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"If they aren't going to cooperate, we are going to look to utilize the laws as hard as we can", said a second White House official.

Meanwhile, protesters marched to a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, holding hundreds of children separated from their parents. Yet scuttling the bill could turn off independent voters, an especially important bloc for House Republicans competing in dozens of districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. "The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law".

"Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker", Bannon said at the event.

On Saturday, Trump was more direct: "Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!" These numbers include minors who arrived at the border without a relative and children separated from their parents.

For President Trump, of course, it's just politics, the pain, trauma and suffering that his administration is inflicting notwithstanding - to say nothing of the optics. "That is traumatising to the children, who are innocent victims".

"I'm looking at both of them", Trump told Fox News. This is why we need more Republicans elected in November.

Trump's comments stifled negotiations in Congress, as lawmakers believed he was referring to a compromise bill released Thursday that was the product of weeks of negotiations between conservatives, moderate Republicans, and GOP leaders.

They have cited several "loopholes" in the law that they wish to close as a means to stop illegal immigration, and therefore remove the need for a zero-tolerance policy.