What's happening at the US border

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Brian Ries and Amanda Wills, CNN

Updated 9:52 p.m. ET, June 22, 2018
195 Posts
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10:44 a.m. ET, June 22, 2018

Bill Clinton on child separations: "It's wrong. It's immoral. It's not required by the law."

From CNN's Dan Merica

Former President Bill Clinton speaks during a Remembrance and Celebration of the Life & Enduring Legacy of Robert F. Kennedy event taking place at Arlington National Cemetery on June 6, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia.
Former President Bill Clinton speaks during a Remembrance and Celebration of the Life & Enduring Legacy of Robert F. Kennedy event taking place at Arlington National Cemetery on June 6, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for RFK Human Rights

President Bill Clinton told an audience in Chicago on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s child separation policy was “wrong” and “immoral.”

“Taking these kids away from their parents makes no sense,” he said. “It’s wrong. It’s immoral. It’s not required by the law. And it’s not necessary to protect the border. It’s just wrong.”

He added: “Children should not be bargaining chips.  They are people…I not only want this to stop, I want them to go get these kids that have already been sent away and give them back to their parents and do it right now.”

Clinton is on his book tour for “The President Is Missing,” a work of fiction he wrote with James Patterson.

The interview was with Bob Barnett, a longtime lawyer for the Clintons who has negotiated most – if not all – of their book deals.

10:24 a.m. ET, June 22, 2018

House GOP moving forward on immigration, key congressman says — despite Trump's tweet

From CNN's Manu Raju

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte says that the GOP is going to push forward on immigration — despite Trump’s tweet saying the party should abandon the effort.

“We made a lot of progress last night and we are going to continue to move forward because the administration needs the legislation. I don’t think it will affect the mood of the members who got very close yesterday," He said.

Goodlatte, the key chairman leading the effort on immigration, added that the Republican “absolutely" plan to push forward. The House voted down one immigration bill (one that was named after him) yesterday, but it's still working on a second proposal.

CNN pressed further: But Trump told you to stop?

“I would say it’s more important to do it right now," Goodlatte responded.

10:08 a.m. ET, June 22, 2018

New York City mayor demands to know when children in his city will be reunited with their parents

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

New York mayor Bill de Blasio stands at a fence of the Tornillo Port of Entry near El Paso, Texas, Thursday during a protest rally.
New York mayor Bill de Blasio stands at a fence of the Tornillo Port of Entry near El Paso, Texas, Thursday during a protest rally. Brendan Smialowski / AFP

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, requesting information about the children sent to New York after being separated from their parents at the US southern border.

De Blasio said he is “deeply concerned” for the health and safety of the children. He asked for information on how the government “will bring these families back together, and a deadline for accomplishing that task.” 

Why the New York City mayor is involved with the border crisis: At least 239 migrant children who were separated from their families are in the care of Cayuga Centers in Harlem, De Blasio said. The children include a 9-month-old. Some of the kids have bed bugs, lice, chicken pox and other contagious diseases.

De Blasio tweeted a copy of the full letter he sent to Azar:

6:13 p.m. ET, June 22, 2018

About 500 children reunited with parents, officials say

From CNN's Tal Kopan

US Customs and Border Protection says about 500 children have been reunified with their parents. At least 2,300 migrant kids had been separated from their parents after crossing the border under President Trump's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy.

Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to stop family separations, but it did not address how officials would reunite children who had already been separated from their parents.

Here's the full statement from Pete Ladowicz, with Customs and Border Protection:

The Administration continues to work to reunify prosecuted parents with their children. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has unified approximately 500 children (over 15%) with their parents who had been referred for prosecution for illegal entry. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Health and Human Services are developing a process to be centered at ICE’s Port Isabel Detention Center to continue unification efforts.
9:10 a.m. ET, June 22, 2018

Trump: "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration" until after the midterms

As House Republicans continue to work on their comprehensive immigration bill, Trump has some different advice: Stop until after the November midterms.

The President has repeatedly, and falsely, blamed the Democrats for the border crisis. Now, he's urging Republicans to stop working with their Democratic colleagues and instead wait for a bigger GOP majority.

Here's his tweet:

It was the third in a series of tweets blaming the "obstructionist" Democrats for blocking immigration reform. (Although, not even all of the Republicans are united on the issue).

Some context: Just days ago, President Trump urged Congress to take action to fix "ridiculous and obsolete" immigration laws. He said now is "the best opportunity" to do so:

9:02 a.m. ET, June 22, 2018

The House rejected one immigration bill yesterday. Here's what happens now.

From CNN's Phil Mattingly

House Republicans, facing failure, reverted to a tried and true escape hatch when it comes to immigration: Postpone, and keep negotiating

It’s a process that has taken place repeatedly — to some degree for years — and has never netted an actual GOP-only bill that can get a majority in the House. Will one more weekend of talks change that? Senior aides who have been through this a dozen or so times are understandably very skeptical.

Note: The first of two House immigration bills failed yesterday

What negotiators are working on now: Two specific issues: an expansion of the e-verify system and addressing farm state lawmaker concerns of agriculture visas. To be perfectly clear, these are not clean or easy issues. The are complicated thickets that bring in a lot of different business and constituent elements that likely will only serve to bring new problems to the table. 

Bottom line: The President says don’t even bother. The Senate Majority Leader has no intention of taking up a House proposal that will fall well short of the votes needed to pass in the Senate. As of noon yesterday, the immigration bill wasn’t just short of the votes, aides said: it was well short of the votes. It would be quite something to turn that around in 72 hours. 

9:58 p.m. ET, June 21, 2018

Mother who was separated from her daughter: "I am desperate. I want to see her."

From CNN's Rosa Flores, Ray Sanchez and Devon M. Sayers

Cindy Madrid hasn't seen or talked to her 6-year-old daughter, Alisson, since they were separated at a Texas detention center after crossing the border.

"Imagine, all of these days without knowing anything about my daughter, without talking to her, without seeing her. Without any information about anything," she told CNN in a phone interview from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Port Isabel detention center in Texas.

Her daughter was among the children who were heard sobbing in an audio recording obtained by ProPublica after being separated from their parents at the border.

As painful as it was to hear Alisson's pleas, Madrid said she found solace in knowing the audio recording exposed the childrens' anguished cries to the world.

She hoped to reunite with her daughter on Thursday after President Trump signed an executive order asking his agencies to keep families together. But Madrid said she hasn't talked to her daughter and has only been in communication with a social worker.

"I am desperate. I want to see her," Madrid said.

9:25 p.m. ET, June 21, 2018

Justice Department: Jeff Sessions has been consistent on family separations

From CNN's Laura Jarrett

Department of Justice spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores issued a statement Thursday about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his stance on the practice of separating families at the border.

“The AG has been clear: We do not want to separate families," she said. "He has also been clear when he has urged people repeatedly to go to any port of entry to claim asylum instead of risking the dangers of crossing the border illegally and being prosecuted.”

Some background: Sessions told Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club that the Trump administration "never really intended to" separate families at the border.

But on May 7 — the day the policy was publicized — Sessions said, “So, if you cross the border, unlawfully, even a first offense, we're gonna prosecute you ... If you're smuggling a child, we're gonna prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. It's not our fault that somebody does that.”

Sessions interview with CBN will air on Friday and Monday.

9:06 p.m. ET, June 21, 2018

Emails suggest "zero-tolerance" policy is effectively on hold

From CNN's Tal Kopan

Members of the US Border Patrol listen as US President Donald Trump speaks after inspecting border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.
Members of the US Border Patrol listen as US President Donald Trump speaks after inspecting border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.

Though the Trump administration outwardly is maintaining that it is continuing its "zero-tolerance" border policy, email traffic obtained by CNN shows that the policy has effectively been curtailed for now -- the latest sign of confusion and disarray over how to implement an executive order designed to halt family separations at the border.

The decision by Customs and Border Protection to put a hold on referring adults caught crossing the border illegally if they arrive with their children comes after President Trump signed an executive order asking his agencies to keep families together at the border -- though it did not order a halt to prosecutions.

According to email traffic sent Wednesday night and Thursday morning that was obtained by CNN, Customs and Border Protection has told its field offices to suspend referring any parents who cross the border illegally with their children for prosecution for misdemeanor illegal-entry charges.

The move, which could be reversed, effectively neuters "zero tolerance" as long as it is in effect. The series of emails shows how the President's order left government agencies scrambling for how to comply -- as it was rolled out without any clear guidance on what the practical effect would be.