What's happening at the US border

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Brian Ries and Amanda Wills, CNN
9:52 p.m. ET, June 22, 2018
12:53 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

American Academy of Pediatrics head says separating families is "child abuse"

Dr. Colleen Kraft, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said removing children from the care of their parents at the border amounts to a form of child abuse.

Kraft, who heads the professional association of pediatricians, visited a facility where children who had been separated for their parents were being held.

She found toddlers — who you'd expect to be rambunctious — staying unusually silent, she said. One young girl sat wailing.

"This is not normal activity or brain development with these children. The takeaway is that these children need their parents," she said. "This does amount to child abuse."

Dr. Kraft was first invited by local pediatricians to visit a government shelter for immigrant children in Combes, Texas, this spring, and was shaken by what she saw.

"I've never been in this situation where I've felt so needlessly helpless," she told CNN of the visit.

12:36 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Trump: "A country without borders is not a country at all"

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Trump said Monday that secure borders are necessary to keeping the country safe. 

"A country without borders is not a country at all," Trump said at the start of a space council event at the White House.

"We need borders, we need safety," Trump continued, decrying "the death and destruction that’s been caused by people coming into this country, without going through a process."

Insisting the country requires a merit-based immigration system, Trump maintained the importance of securing the nation's borders.

"We want a safe country and it starts with the borders," he said. "That’s the way it is."

12:36 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Trump: "The US will not be a migrant camp"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

In opening remarks at a space policy rollout event, President Donald Trump addressed the growing child separation crisis on the US-Mexico border, blaming Democrats for the unfolding situation.

“I say it’s very strongly the Democrats’ fault, their obstruction, they’re really obstructionist and they’re really obstructing,” Trump said.

He continued, “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility, it won’t be. You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States, not on my watch."

Watch:

12:34 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

White House documents show family separations haven't deterred undocumented immigrants

From CNN's Tal Kopan

The Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy that has resulted in thousands of family separations at the border hasn't deterred immigrants from trying to enter the country illegally, internal Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by CNN show.

The documents, which refer to the effort as the "Prosecution Initiative," demonstrate that in early April, Homeland Security staff predicted that the deterrent effects of the policies would be visible quickly.

"The full impact of policy initiatives are not fully realized for 2-3 weeks following public messaging — however, some migrants already underway may temporarily halt to determine the effects of the new policy," the document states.

Instead, publicly released data showed a roughly 5% uptick in the number of people caught crossing the border illegally when compared to figures from April, including a big jump in unaccompanied children. 

While the documents don't speak to the conceptualization of the policy or the internal deliberations that preceded it, they call into question the administration's justification for the policy. The lack of measurable impact on immigration lends weight to questions about the policy's effectiveness, going beyond moral issues raised by the policy's critics. 

So far, the policy has resulted in the separations of least 2,000 children from their families.

12:13 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Pundits are using Fox News to appeal directly to Trump on family separations

From CNN's Brian Stelter

This is one of those instances when people are going on Fox News and appealing directly to the President.

Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who's been a relatively friendly voice for President Trump on TV lately, had a forceful message for him on Monday.

"You have to end this policy of separating parents from children," Dershowitz told Trump through the president's favorite morning show, "Fox & Friends."

This policy "imposes a trauma on the children. It's just unacceptable. It's just not proper. There are other ways of doing this," Dershowitz said, imploring Trump to stop it "today."

The hosts soon moved on to safer subject matter, but Dershowitz's message was memorable for sure.

Ann Coulter went in the other direction on Fox News on Sunday. In an exchange highlighted by Breitbart, the far-right commentator claimed that some migrant children are "child actors."

"These child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now: Do not fall for it, Mr. President," Coulter said.

She commented that she gets "very nervous about the President getting his news from TV," even while she was trying to talk to him through the TV.

12:04 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Senior White House aide says Trump is "enforcing the law" on family separations

Mercedes Schlapp, the White House's director of strategic communications, said in an appearance on Fox News that President Trump is "fully committed to enforcing the law" when it comes to separating young children from their parents.

Schlapp, echoing the President, blamed Democrats for "using the children as the political pawns" and "advocating for the smugglers who are bringing the children over." She called on Democrats to vote for the two Republican-led immigration bills and "close the loopholes."

11:47 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

The media is surging to the border as family separation crisis grows

From CNN's Brian Stelter

The separation of migrant families at the US border is becoming a bigger story by the day.

And not just in America: News outlets around the world are also looking askance at what's happening as a result of the Trump administration's recent policy change.

Newsrooms have been surging resources to the border region in recent days. Journalists are receiving access to detention centers, albeit with restrictions, and seeing that some children are being kept in cages. Other children are staying in dorm-like settings.

Among the reasons for the surge of news coverage: President Trump's lies about the policy, sustained outrage among immigration advocates, and organized protests by Democratic lawmakers.

By Father's Day, it was the lead story on many newscasts and websites.

Keep reading...

11:29 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Jeff Sessions: If we build the wall, we won't have to separate kids and parents

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the US does not want to separate undocumented children and parents who cross the border — but added that the government must prosecute "adults who flout our laws."

"We do not want to separate children from their parents. We do not want adults to bring children into this country unlawfully, either, placing those children at risk. But we do have a policy of prosecuting adults who flout our laws to come here illegally instead of waiting their turn or claiming asylum at any of the ports of entry. "

Sessions added that Trump's proposed border wall is a way to fix the issue.

"President Trump has said this cannot continue. We do not want to separate parents from their children. If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices," Sessions said.

10:38 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Senior GOP senator: Family separation policy is "wrong"

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior Republican from Utah, just issued a statement criticizing the policy that's lead to family separations at the border as "wrong."

He said he's working with both Democrats and Republicans to come up with a solution.