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story.lead_photo.caption The Associated Press SITTING IN CAGES: In this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, sit in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday.

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump searched Tuesday evening for a way to end the administration's policy of separating families after illegal border crossings, with their focus shifting to a new plan to keep children in detention longer than now permitted — but with their parents.

GOP leaders and lawmakers, increasingly fearful of voter reaction in November, met with Trump for about an hour at the Capitol to try to work out some resolution. Trump told rank-and-file Republicans he was "1,000 percent" behind them on their rival immigration bills. But it was unclear if that's enough of a strategy boost to pass legislation through the divided GOP majority.

"We had a great meeting," he called out as he left.

Leaders in both the House and Senate are struggling to shield the party's lawmakers from the public outcry over images of children taken from migrant parents and held in cages at the border. But they are running up against Trump's shifting views on specifics and his determination, according to advisers, not to look soft on immigration or his signature border wall.

Many lawmakers say he could simply reverse the administration's "zero tolerance" policy and keep families together. But some worry the lack of a clear resolution could exacerbate an already tough situation as his party heads toward difficult midterm elections.

During the private session, Trump said his daughter, Ivanka, told him the situation with families at the border looks bad, one lawmaker said.

"He said, 'Politically, this is bad,'" said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. "It's not about the politics, this is the right thing to do."

But Trump touched on many topics, including the president's historic visit to North Korea. And he took a jab at Rep. Mark Sanford, congratulating the South Carolina Republican on his recent campaign, according to those granted anonymity to discuss the private meeting. Sanford, a frequent Trump critic, lost his GOP primary after Trump tweeted against him.

As Trump walked out of the meeting in the Capitol basement, he was confronted by about a half-dozen House Democrats, who yelled, "Stop separating our families!"

House GOP leaders scrambled Tuesday to produce a revised version of a broader immigration bill to include a provision to resolve the situation of family separations.

The major change unveiled Tuesday would loosen rules that now limit the amount of time minors can be held to 20 days, according to a GOP source familiar with the measure. Instead, the children could be detained with their parents for extended periods.

The revision would also give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use $7 billion in border technology funding to pay for family detention centers, said the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and commented only on condition of anonymity.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Republicans are rallying behind a different approach. Theirs is narrow legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow detained families to stay together in custody while expediting their deportation proceedings.

Cruz's bill would double the number of federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families and limit the processing of asylum cases to no more than 14 days — a goal immigrant advocates say would be difficult to meet.

"While cases are pending, families should stay together," tweeted Cruz, who is in a re-election battle.

The second-ranking Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said they're proposing a "humane, safe and secure family facility" where parents and minor children could be detained together.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters he's reaching out to Democrats for bipartisan backing, since the proposal would need to reach a 60-vote threshold to advance in that chamber.

But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York signaled that no such support would be coming, saying it's already in Trump's power to keep the families together.

"There's no need for legislation. There's no need for anything else. You can do it. Mr. President, you started it, you can stop it."

However, Trump, who has been watching the coverage play out on television with increasing anger, has told confidants he believes the news media are deliberately highlighting the worst images — like the cages and screaming toddlers — to make him look bad.

To combat worries that he looks "soft" on immigration, Trump wrote a series of tweets in which he played up the dangers posed by the high-profile MS-13 gangs, which make up a small percentage of those who have crossed the border. He used the word "infest" to describe migrants coming to the U.S. illegally.

At an earlier event Tuesday, Trump said he was asking Congress for "the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit." He said it was "the only solution to the border crisis."

Trump's meeting at the Capitol came as lawmakers in both parties were up in arms after days of news reports with images of children confined in large wire cages and an audio recording of a young child pleading for his "Papa."

The issue boiled over Tuesday at a House hearing on an unrelated subject, when protesters with babies briefly shut down proceedings.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, pleaded with Republicans on the panel "to stand up to President Donald Trump."

Under the administration's current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution — a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Under President Barack Obama's administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.

More than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together. Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said his measure "becomes a backup proposal" if others fail.

The House is to vote later this week on two bills that address broader immigration issues to protect young immigrant "Dreamers," who have been living in the U.S. illegally since childhood, from deportation and fund Trump's border wall.

But outlook for passage is dim. One conservative measure is expected to fail. And it's unclear if Trump's backing with help the compromise legislation that GOP leaders negotiated with moderate Republicans. Rep. Steve Scalise of Lousiana, the GOP whip, told reporters he thought it had enough support to pass. Votes are expected Thursday.

The White House, after saying it would accept only a comprehensive fix, reversed course Tuesday and said it was reviewing the Cruz bill.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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  • RBear
    June 19, 2018 at 11:30 a.m.

    Trump and his administration are using children on the border as a bargaining chip for increased wall funding. I suspected that was his heartless motive, but it was confirmed yesterday in several reports as legislation was being formed to prevent these cruel and unnecessary actions by the administration. It just shows how low this administration can sink to get what it wants.
    The good news is that Congress is start to get some spine and countering Trump on some of his actions. Just today, Congress will reinstate the ZTE bans in the defense spending bill after the Trump administration lifted them. You can only play dictator for so long in America before the public starts to take you down.

  • hah406
    June 19, 2018 at 12:47 p.m.

    And once again he is trying to gaslight everyone by blaming Democrats instead of his own administration. Every other administration referred family groups with children to civil immigration courts. He and his AG Sessions / Himmler instead refer everyone to criminal court, separate children, and put them in cages. Very reminiscent of another time in history, except even then we didn't separate Japanese children from their parents.

  • mrcharles
    June 19, 2018 at 1:22 p.m.

    Hah not sure about the Indians, but they say as to the Africans , the good people of the good book had no hesitation whatsoever in doing so , even though some of the children were progeny of their church going white masters. As to sinful sons of jacob, the civil war devastation to the south was as the babylonians to the children of Israel.

    There can be sin of the person , trump will have to deal with that and his lesser imps he has, but a nation can be sinful to. Hopefully in the 2nd decade of the 21st century civilized Americans can redeem themselves from their transgressions by stopping this abomination, and no other fancy words can change what it really is.

    As Henry V stated, ..I was not angry since I came to fully understand trump until
    this instant.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    June 19, 2018 at 1:36 p.m.

    How do does one get ride of a bad law? Enforce it.

  • Popsmith
    June 19, 2018 at 1:48 p.m.

    I have to obey the laws. Illegals should have to also. If they are willing to put their children at risk, send them all home.

  • Packman
    June 19, 2018 at 2:26 p.m.

    Popcorn. Must have more popcorn. Haven't seen libs melt down in such an awesome fashion since Hillary got her a$$ kicked by Trump. Am I wrong to enjoy so very much the sight of libs going deeper and deeper into the depths of insanity?
    I'm beginning to believe the typical lib really is dumber than a sack of hammers. They continue to view the faux immigration dust up dealing with minors through a political lens. This is nonsense for one very simple reason: Donald Trump isn't a politician and one of the many reasons us Normals voted for the guy.
    Tell your hysterical lies all you want, libs, it will put ZERO pressure on President Trump to do anything except push forward with HIS brand of immigration reform. And 63 million good, decent, hard working Americans thank him for it. You see, us Normals understand that kids are taken from their parents as normal operating procedure in today's criminal justice system when the parents break the law. Most likely the kids are better cared for away from their worthless parents/relatives/gang leader/pimp.
    Specific to taking care of kids at the border, it would be reprehensible NOT to separate the kids from the adults to make sure the kids aren't in danger. On some level it's no different than removing kids from a parent that leaves the kids in a locked car in 100 degree heat while baby momma/daddy runs in to get a new iPhone. When parents have a track record of putting their kids in danger, the kids must be removed until the situation can be investigated. Simple as that.

  • gagewatcher
    June 19, 2018 at 2:54 p.m.

    march their little illegal butts back to their home countries so they can work to change their home instead of living off the American taxpayer teat.

  • PopMom
    June 19, 2018 at 3:04 p.m.

    Some of those being detained have followed the procedures to file for asylum. Others have merely committed a misdemeanor.


    Illegals are ineligible for most forms of federal welfare. They can get WIC and school lunches, but not much else. As long as they are not criminals, I want them here working the jobs which most Americans refuse to do.

  • PopMom
    June 19, 2018 at 3:10 p.m.


    Those who are most hysterical over this issue seem to be the Republicans afraid of losing their seats. Child abuse is not good politics.

    Enjoy your popcorn and the next few weeks as the Republicans sink further in the polls and the calls for impeachment begin.

  • Packman
    June 19, 2018 at 3:46 p.m.

    Hey PopMom - So, you admit the lib narrative is about politics and not about protecting kids. Seems you may have come to your senses.
    And I agree with you about child abuse. According to Kirstjen Neilsen and HHS some of these kids have literally died on the journey from far away lands. Some of the older minors are PAID to be used over and over again to get adults in the country. Some are simply abandoned along the way. It's been documented that kids have been transported in the trunks of cars and some reports of horse trailers alongside horses. A large number (perhaps a large majority) were actually separated from their parents months ago to travel with relatives, friends, and human traffickers wishing to turn the young girls into sex slaves.
    So, PopMom, spare us Normals your manufactured sympathy. It's Grand Canyon size hollow.