- The news website Axios reported Wednesday that President Donald Trump had acknowledged children were suffering at the border and that it looked bad but was reluctant to back down on the family-separation immigration policy because he didn’t want to look weak.
- Trump has demanded that Congress pass new immigration bills, and he’s reportedly unwilling to budge on detaining children separately from their parents in immigration cases until it does.
- “He’s moved personally, but also doesn’t want to look weak,” Axios quoted an anonymous senior administration official as saying.
President Donald Trump has demanded that Congress be the one to end the practice of separating families at the border in immigration cases, and a new report indicates he hasn’t backed down on the traumatic practice because he doesn’t want to look weak.
The news website Axios reported Wednesday that Trump’s daughter Ivanka had spoken with him about pictures of children suffering in detention but that he remained undeterred.
Ivanka Trump previously had success moving Trump to act when she showed him pictures of children gassed in Syria.
Trump’s aides had previously shown him photos of detained migrant children playing video games, exercising outside, and smiling, a senior administration official told The Washington Post.
Criticism of the administration’s policy of separating families detained at the border in immigration cases has created a particularly emotional news cycle, with many in the US rocked by an audio recording ProPublica obtained of children crying while in detention.
While Trump has the power to reverse the policy, Axios quoted an anonymous senior administration official with an explanation as to why Trump wasn’t budging on the issue.
“He’s doing it to press the case with Congress,” the official told Axios. “He’s moved personally, but also doesn’t want to look weak. He feels boxed in, is frustrated and knows it’s bad politics – but also understands it’s not a fight he can back down from.”
On Tuesday, dozens of current and former US attorneys wrote a letter to Trump condemning the practice. The UN Human Rights Council, as well as many other human-rights organisations, have also condemned it.
Following the UN criticism, the US withdrew from the Human Rights Council, though it cited the body’s history of singling out Israel for criticism as its reason.
Though the Trump administration began the policy of separating families detained at the border, Trump has repeatedly sought to shift blame for family separation toward Congress and Democrats.
The president has repeatedly attempted to deflect criticism by tweeting variants of “CHANGE THE LAWS.”
In a closed-door meeting with Republican lawmakers, Trump on Tuesday expressed support for a Republican compromise bill. Democrats had no input in the draft of the bill.
Administration officials have also talked up the deterrent value of separating families, frequently saying parents who bring their children into the US illegally are putting the children in grave danger.
Such a point was previously made by Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, who served at a time when unaccompanied children from Central America were seeking refuge in the US by the thousands.
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