White House defends immigration policy as outrage grows over children

However, he also stressed there would be some exceptions, noting that adults with offenses other than illegal entry would not be able to stay with their children.

The comments came as the administration tried to hold the line against a hostile press corps, rabid Democrats and increasingly skittish Republicans.

"Why we would even think that this is a tool that is needed to defend our borders is insane", Republican Representative Will Hurd, who represents a Texas district along the border, told National Public Radio. The officials on the call said the stricter standards would also apply to the initial screening process to determine whether immigrants crossing the border have a "credible fear" of returning to their home countries.

Trump has said he wants the separations to end, but continues to blame opposition Democrats for the crisis, which critics say is of his own making.Amid deep divisions, congressional Republicans have struggled to craft a viable immigration plan.

The families were all separated so the parents could be criminally prosecuted, said a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, who declined to be named, on a call with Reuters.

In Geneva, the top United Nations human rights official called on the Trump administration to halt its "unconscionable" policy of forcibly separating children from migrant parents.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush also criticised what's going on in a newspaper article.

Most children are detained in facilities near the border, parents are given the number for a hotline to attempt to track them down. In perhaps the most surprising response from a first lady, a statement from Mrs. Trump's office said she "hates" to see families separated at the border. Republican voters back Trump's policy of separating children from parents accused of entering the country illegally.

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Republicans were tentatively planning to offer two bills this week in Congress, one that would sharply curtail legal immigration and a compromise measure, as yet not revealed, that could draw criticism from conservatives.

Before the April policy shift, Customs and Border Patrol used to release family units to the civil court system rather than split up parents and children.

He blamed Democrats for the impasse, even though his fellow Republicans control both chambers in Congress.

He said the child separations are a function of current law, adding that "we're stuck with these frightful laws".

"They're criminals when they come across illegally and that's why they're getting separated".

"What the administration has chose to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you", she said.

The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said she had warned during the campaign that Trump's hard-line immigration stance would result in family separations.

"Why don't the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world's worst immigration law?" Trump said the U.S. Melania Trump released a statement on Sunday saying she "hates to see" children separated from their families. "It is immoral. And it breaks my heart", she wrote in a guest column published Sunday in The Washington Post.

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