Friday 16 November 2018

Trump tells Republicans to stop 'wasting time' on immigration

Migrant families from Mexico listen to US customs officers before entering the US to apply for asylum. Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters
Migrant families from Mexico listen to US customs officers before entering the US to apply for asylum. Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Nick Allen

Donald Trump accused Democrats of spreading "phony stories of sadness and grief" as he told Republicans to "stop wasting time" on the immigration crisis at the Mexican border.

The US president suggested Democrats had fabricated some of the news that came from the border following a backlash against his policy of forcibly separating illegal immigrant families.

He said Republicans should cease efforts to push comprehensive immigration legislation through Congress and focus instead on winning mid-term elections in November.

The president's comments came two days after he signed an executive order ending family separations when photographs of children being held in wire mesh cages caused an outcry.

A migrant mother and son are reunited after being separated at Baltimore-Washington International Airport
A migrant mother and son are reunited after being separated at Baltimore-Washington International Airport

On Twitter, he wrote: "We cannot allow our country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections. Obama and others had the same pictures, and did nothing about it!"

He added: "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!"

One Republican bill aimed at overhauling the immigration system failed on Thursday, and another remained in limbo. Republican leaders in Congress said they would press on anyway.

Both bills would have addressed the separations but also included funding for the promised border wall and a reduction of legal migration. Mr Trump also said he "will speak to Mexico" after accusing it of allowing illegal immigrants to cross into the US.

He indicated his "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all illegal immigrants would continue, but families could remain together. The comments came after it emerged that the two-year-old Honduran girl pictured crying on the cover of 'Time' magazine that subsequently raised a record £13m (€14.8m) on Facebook had not actually been separated from her mother.

According to Denis Valera, her father in Honduras, his daughter Yelena was with her mother in a detention centre in Texas.

'Time' later published a correction, stating: "The girl was not carried away screaming by US Border Patrol agents." Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, said: "She was not separated. The separation here is from the facts."

Meanwhile, officials say up to 20,000 children will be housed at military bases from July. It was unclear whether this will be for those crossing the border alone or to keep families together.

And a government official said 500 of the 2,300 children separated under Mr Trump's policy had been reunited.

Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia (38), a Guatemalan, sued the US government to get her child back. Less than a day after the order she was reunited with Darwin (7), who was flown there from a shelter in Phoenix, Arizona.

They had been separated for a month.

The mother said: "No one's going to separate us again."

Cindy Madrid, a mother from El Salvador, said she recognised the voice of her daughter Alisson (6) on a recording of children crying inside a Texas detention centre. From a separate detention centre, she said: "What's happening is unfair. There are many rooms full of women going through the same thing."

Separated children have been sent to facilities across America and advocacy groups said some may never see their families again, describing the reunification process as a "labyrinth".

One group representing 300 families said it had so far managed to locate only two children.

At the Mexican border there was also confusion over whether parents crossing with children would continue to be prosecuted.

The public defender for the western district of Texas said they would not.

The US Justice Department said they would.

Irish Independent

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