What's happening at the US border

9:57 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Here's where the immigration debate stands in Congress

The outrage to the Trump administration’s policy of referring all individuals illegally crossing the border for criminal prosecution (and as such, leading to family separations) is growing. It’s visual. It’s visceral. It’s bipartisan.

And yet, at this point on what will be the most significant policy week on the immigration front in months, nobody appears to know what the solution will be.

Bottom line: The vast majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill want the President to, for all intents and purposes, turn off the policy shift on criminal prosecutions. It’s within his power — just as it was to implement it in the first place. But aides in both chambers have said they’ve gotten no indication that’s coming.

Another key point: Those same Republicans have just as much power — and the majorities — to start moving targeted legislation to force a reversal. At this point, that’s not happening.

About the family separation debate: The President wants broad bipartisan immigration legislation that addresses the separation issue. In fact, he (and some of his top aides) has made clear that the family separation issue has become a bargaining chip of sorts in their push for a broader immigration overhaul. 

But, right now, there is no bipartisan immigration overhaul in the works in either chamber. The Senate tried it, and failed. The House is moving through a purely partisan effort right now. Democrats aren’t on the table and there’s little sense on either side that they will be any time soon.

9:41 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

There's a White House briefing this afternoon

Press secretary Sarah Sanders will take the podium today at 1:15 p.m. ET.

We expect a lot of questions about Trump's immigration policy and the child separations currently happening at the southern border. You can follow it live here.

9:37 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Trump's tweeting about immigration (and falsely blaming Democrats)

As backlash grows against the White House's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that has forced separations of undocumented parents and kids, President Trump is tweeting about immigration in Europe.

In an earlier tweet, he blamed the Democrats for failing to fix US immigration laws. He said something similar on Friday, when falsely blamed Democrats for the separation of families at the US border (His administration adopted the controversial policy.)

2:08 p.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Anthony Scaramucci criticizes Trump's immigration policy: "It’s inhumane"

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said President Trump needs to end the "atrocious policy" of separating undocumented children and parents at the US border.

“I think the President should stop it,” Sacaramucci said on CNN's New Day. “He needs to step back, stop listening to his aides and his advisers."

He added, “It’s an atrocious policy. It’s inhumane. It’s offensive to the average American.”

9:15 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

1,400 immigrant children are living in a former Texas Walmart

The Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville is housed in a former Walmart superstore.
The Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville is housed in a former Walmart superstore.

The strangeness of the largest migrant children's center in the United States, near the border with Mexico, shows up in the details.

Here, at the Casa Padre shelter in Brownsville, Texas, there are 1,469 boys, ages 10 to 17, housed inside the 250,000-square-foot shell of a former Walmart superstore. None of the 313 bedrooms have doors. Or ceilings, so that children lying in their beds look up past where their walls end to the scaffolding of the superstore roof high above.

The hundreds of children neatly lined up for their supper of barbecued chicken or sandwiches file past murals of presidents, including one of Donald Trump, alongside with a curious quote from him in Spanish alongside the English: "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war."

The boys at Casa Padre stay there an average of 49 days before being placed with a sponsor — usually a relative — reunited with parents or deported.

Read more about the shelter here.

9:14 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

The story behind the photo of little girl crying at the border

A photo of a little girl, crying as she's stopped at the US border with her mother, is quickly becoming the human face of the White House's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

John Moore, a photographer for Getty Images, snapped the image while he was photographing people crossing a river into the US in the middle of the night.

"I felt a lot when I took it," he tells CNN. "Seeing the children in the crowd was very emotional for me."

He spoke to the girl's mother briefly that night. She told him they had traveled for a month from Honduras to the US border.

Watch more:

9:14 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

These Democratic lawmakers went to the border this weekend

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley returned to the South Texas border on Sunday with a group of Democratic colleagues to tour the Customs and Border Protection processing centers in the Rio Grande Valley.

The lawmakers came to South Texas, they say, to learn more about the agency's processing of undocumented immigrants entering the United States.

Merkley said he had "spoken directly" with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the policy and wanted to see if President Donald Trump would meet with them.

"We must end this policy of family separation," Merkley said.

The group included...

  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland,
  • Texas Rep. Filemon Vela
  • Texas Rep. Vicente Gonzalez
  • Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
  • Vermont Rep. Peter Welch
  • Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline
  • Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan
9:13 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Melania Trump "hates to see children separated from their families"

In a rare statement on a policy issue, first lady Melania Trump weighed in through her spokeswoman on the immigration crisis taking place at America's borders.

"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN on Sunday. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

Trump, who has made helping children the crux of her official "Be Best" platform as first lady, had yet to discuss the state of families and immigration, a topic that has been prominent in headlines for days.

9:13 a.m. ET, June 18, 2018

Key lines from Laura Bush's scathing column condemning child separation

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Former first lady Laura Bush spoke out Sunday night about the separation of families on the US border, writing a harsh criticism of the current zero-tolerance immigration policy being enforced under the Trump administration.

Bush, whose opinion piece ran in The Washington Post, decried the separation of children from parents entering the United States illegally as "cruel" and "immoral." It's a rare public admonishment of current administration policy from Bush, who has seldom weighed in on politics since her husband left office.

  • "I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."
  • "Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso."
  • Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place.
  • "In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.