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
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5:37 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

12 Republican senators call on Jeff Sessions to stop family separations

From CNN's Annie Grayer and Manu Raju

A dozen Republican senators sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and called on him to stop the practice of separating families at the border.

They urged Sessions to stop the practice until Congress can pass legislation that would keep families together.

These senators sent the letter: Orrin Hatch, John McCain, Pat Roberts, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, John Boozman, Dean Heller, Cory Gardner, James Lankford, and Bill Cassidy.

Here's a portion of the letter:

We support the administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents. We therefore ask you to halt implementation of the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally without requiring the forced, inhumane separation of children from their parents. We believe a reasonable path forward can be found that accommodates the need to enforce our laws while holding true to other, equally essential values.

Read the full the letter here.

5:21 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

Trump heads to Capitol Hill to talk immigration with lawmakers

President Trump is visiting Capitol Hill this evening to talk with Republican lawmakers about immigration.

Trump's visit comes as outrage grows over his administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which has resulted in separations of undocumented parents and kids.

Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said "all of the members of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined." 

4:56 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

George Takei: At least during my internment, I was not taken from my parents

Actor George Takei argued that "in one core, horrifying way," the family separations occurring at the United States' southern border are "worse" than the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.

"At least during the internment, when I was just 5 years old, I was not taken from my parents," he wrote in an op-ed for Foreign Policy magazine that was published Tuesday.

Takei, an American citizen of Japanese ancestry who was detained with his family at camps in Arkansas and California, wrote that there was a "hideous irony" in the comparison.

"At least during the internment, my parents were able to place themselves between the horror of what we were facing and my own childish understanding of our circumstances," Takei wrote, describing the ways his family protected him from "the grim reality" of their circumstances.

Keep reading...

4:33 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

Trump administration didn’t separate families earlier because it feared backlash, source says

From CNN's Tal Kopan

The idea of family separations was discussed in the early months of the administration in the context of having a deterrent effect, as then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said publicly at the time on CNN's The Situation Room, according to a source familiar with early DHS deliberations.

But the policy wasn’t put in place because people worried about the backlash, the source said. 

“People foresaw that using that was going to result in a blowback of humanitarian concerns about using mothers and children for those policies," the source said. "My sense is that continued to be a main consideration which is why they didn’t put a policy in effect." 

The source continued: “It was clear that during those discussions there were those who believed that separating families was a way to get at the (migrant) flows, because as we got into the summer the numbers went up and there was concern about how do we address this."

But those ideas didn’t win out, the source said.

Here's Kelly talking about possible family separations last year:

4:02 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

A mom who was separated from her 7-year-old son is suing the Trump administration, too

From CNN's Jessica Schneider and Catherine Shoichet

Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia, a woman from Guatemala, sued Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and other government officials after border agents separated her from her 7-year old son in May.   

She did not cross at a legal point of entry, but instead crossed the border “near San Luis, Arizona….and were immediately approached by border agents," according to a court filing. She said that she sought asylum and was kept in a detention cell with her son for two days, before they were separated.   

She went to Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, while her son was transferred to Phoenix.  She said she passed the credible fear screening interview and was not charged with illegally entering the country.  

She posted bond with the help of an immigration bonds company, Libre by Nexus, on Friday and says she has spoken with her son once.  

She is seeking to be reunited with her son, as well as damages.

The state of New York has announced that it also intends to sue Trump administration. (You can read more about that potential lawsuit in the post below this one.)

3:51 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

New York governor plans to sue Trump administration over border separations

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

The state of New York intends to file a multi-agency lawsuit against the Trump administration on the grounds that the federal government is violating the Constitutional rights of thousands of immigrant children and their parents who have been separated at the border, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office. 

“The governor is directing the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services to commence legal action against the federal government’s 'Separation of Families' policy,” the statement said.

In a phone call with journalists, Cuomo said he would like the lawsuit to be filed within two weeks.

3:35 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

Mexican diplomat: "If we attack families, we are attacking society at its roots"

From CNN’s Marina Carver and Laura Ly

Diego Gomez Pickering, Mexico's consul general to New York City, on Tuesday said the Mexican government is working closely to keep immigrant families together and safe at Mexico’s southern border.

“Families, for us, sit at the nucleus of society, any society, regardless of the country we are speaking of and it is vital that we as individuals, we as human beings, fathers and mothers, we as sons and daughters that we protect this very important institution — it is family, the cornerstone of humanity,” Gomez Pickering said at a Global Institute lunch in Long Island.

He was speaking about people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras crossing into Mexico’s southern border but he also appeared to allude to the situation on Mexico’s border with the United States as well.

Gomez Pickering was speaking about people from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras crossing into Mexico’s southern border but he also appeared to allude to the situation on Mexico’s border with the United States as well.

“We cannot attack families, if we attack families we are attacking society at its roots,” Gomez Pickering said.
3:29 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

4 more states stop National Guard members from assisting at southern border

Members of the Arizona National Guard take a break on April 9, 2018 at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix.
Members of the Arizona National Guard take a break on April 9, 2018 at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix. CAITLIN O'HARA/AFP/Getty Images

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware joined a growing group of states Tuesday afternoon that were pulling, or refusing to send, its National Guard members to the southern border.

  • North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a statement that he would be recalling three members of the state's National Guard from the border, noting, "The cruel policy of tearing children away from their parents requires a strong response."
  • Virginia: Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement announcing that he was recalling four soldiers and a helicopter "until the federal government ends its enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy that separates children from their parents."
  • Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan ordered National Guard troops to return from New Mexico this morning. Hogan tweeted that Maryland will not deploy any National Guard resources to the border until the “policy of separating children from their families has been rescinded.”
  • Delaware: Gov. John Carney also tweeted that today, he had received a request to send National Guard members to the southwest border, but he wouldn't permit it. "Under normal circumstances, we wouldn't hesitate to answer the call," Carney tweeted. "But given what we know about the policies currently in effect at the border, I can't in good conscience send Delawareans to help with that mission."

Why the National Guard: In April, President Trump signed a memorandum to deploy the National Guard to the southwest border. The Pentagon said the troops would "act in support of Border Patrol agents who are performing law enforcement duties."

Since then, a number of states, including New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, said they would not participate in the effort.

There are currently about 2,000 members of the National Guard operating across four border states -- Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas -- according to Kurt M. Rauschenberg, National Guard Bureau Spokesman.

3:19 p.m. ET, June 19, 2018

How the moderate GOP House immigration bill will address family separations

From CNN's From Lauren Fox with Phil Mattingly

The House compromise bill — the more moderate of two House immigration proposals — will include a revised provision to address family separation, according to a House Republican source familiar with negotiations.

The bill is still being finalized, but it will be circulated later today, the source said.

In addition to overturning the rule that says children cannot be in Department of Homeland Security custody longer than 20 days, the House negotiators have expanded their solution to ending family separations. 

Under the new language, the bill will...

  • Require DHS to keep families in their custody even when a parent is going through criminal proceedings for crossing the border
  • Approve the use of $7 billion in border technology money to provide more money to expand DHS family holding centers. 

How this differs from what's happening now: Under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, immigrants crossing the border for the first time are still being prosecuted, which is what has lead to the separations.

Under the original version of the bill, children could be in DHS custody longer than 20 days, but their parents were still going through the Department of Justice system. Because children cannot go to jail, families were being separated. This provision attempts to address this and it keep parents in DHS custody.