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Arguments Erupt Over Immigration at the White House

Customs and Border Protection chief faces off against Justice officials
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2018 11:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The White House has seen arguments erupt since President Trump signed an executive order to keep migrant families together at the US border, the New York Times reports. Sources say the quarrels began Thursday night and resumed Friday when Kevin McAleenan, who heads Customs and Border Protection, asked how his agents can detain families when the law forbids jailing children indefinitely and law enforcement agencies lack resources to handle so many cases. Justice officials fired back, saying their department is adjusting its zero-tolerance policy as CPB agents make prosecution referrals. Reality check: As of May, federal immigration courts had a backlog of over 700,000 cases and some courts were scheduling hearings after 2021. In related news:

  • "Insane idea": Before signing his executive order to ban the separation of migrant families, Trump apparently told aides he wanted to sign a complete immigration bill in an executive order, the Washington Post reports. One administration official called it "a pretty insane idea" and government lawyers told Trump he couldn't rewrite immigration law without Congress.

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  • Another tweet: Centrist Republicans were "gloomy" Friday after a Trump tweet appeared to undermine their efforts for a compromise bill on immigration reform, the AP reports. "Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November," he tweeted. "We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!"
  • Public health disaster: The US Department of Health and Human Services created a task force Friday to help reunify thousands of migrant children with their parents—a sign that the agency's refugee resettlement office can't handle it alone, Politico reports. The HHS arm behind the task force usually assists with public health disasters.
  • Immigration chaos: The process of reuniting migrants with their children is so chaotic that even immigration lawyers are struggling to figure it out, reports CNN. Some 500 of 2,300 kids are back with their parents, but Texas immigration lawyer Jodi Goodwin says only two of her 25 adult clients have reached their children by phone. "I've had clients that have been detained for two and a half weeks and they still don't know where their children are," she says.

  • Irreparable harm: Experts say children separated from parents can suffer long-lasting psychological damage, Time reports. Child separation is "pernicious in terms of its effects on psychological development and well-being in kids" and can lead to PTSD or suicide, says a UCLA professor. A foster mom for immigrant children tells CNN they are "terrified" and "shell-shocked."
  • Streamlining drug cases: In an email, a Justice Department official told Southern California border officials to focus on immigration cases—meaning prosecutors will have to process drug cases quickly, sometimes in mere hours, USA Today reports. Trump's border crackdown "will occupy substantially more of our resources," the official wrote.
  • Los Angeles-area facilities: The LA Times looks at facilities currently housing about 100 kids taken from their parents at the US border. Some immigration advocates say the facilities seem good—one was housing foster children in cottages and giving them "round-the-clock, trauma-informed, therapeutic care," per the facility website—but the LA-area facility with the biggest federal grant for unaccompanied minors fell under scrutiny in 2012 when a case manager was found guilty of molesting three teenage boys.
(Read more immigration stories.)

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