WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he’s not comfortable with a Trump administration policy that separates children and parents at the southern border, as House Republicans, under increasing pressure to address the humanitarian crisis, raced to finish a new immigration bill.

“We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said, adding that the policy is being dictated by a court ruling that prevents children who enter the country illegally from being held in custody for long periods.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi pushed back on that assessment, saying that President Donald Trump could “stop the practice on a dime.”

She called the Trump administration’s separation policy “barbaric,” adding: “It has to stop.”

Republicans are under increasing pressure to respond to the humanitarian crisis at the border. News stories have highlighted that families are being separated as they enter the country illegally from Mexico. Many of those families are seeking asylum in the U.S.

The separation policy has become a political flashpoint at a time when House Republican leaders are trying to craft compromise legislation on immigration. The bill aims to address thorny issues that have bedeviled Congress for years.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., tweeted Thursday that he told a constituent that, “I am asking the White House to keep families together as much as we can.”

Historically, immigrants without serious criminal records have been released from custody while they pursued asylum or refugee status. The Trump administration has moved to detain more people, including asylum seekers.

Under a new “zero-tolerance” policy from the administration, parents who are criminally charged with illegal entering the country are separated from their children while in custody. The children are usually released to other family members or foster care.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions insists the policy of separating families is necessary to deter illegal border-crossings. Authorities say the decision to send people to prisons is a temporary one forced by a shortage of beds.

Lawmakers are considering ways to prevent family separations, although it’s unclear what approach the compromise legislation in the House will take.

One idea is to revisit longstanding rules under the so-called Flores agreement, a decades-old legal settlement that prevents children who enter the country illegally from being held in custody for long periods. Critics say the settlement leaves few options but to separate families as parents are being detained.

The White House wants to change the rules. But advocates for immigrants have warned against simply allowing longer detentions …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

      

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Ryan not comfortable with separating parents, kids at border

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