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As outrage grows over children, White House defends immigration policy

**Source: reuters.com

Jun 18, 2018 8:46 PM - 3 weeks, 6 days, 21 hours, 18 minutes, 58 seconds ago

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As outrage grows over children, White House defends immigration policy

6 Min Read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Monday defended its hardline immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border as furor grew over the separation of immigrant parents and children, including video of youngsters sitting in concrete-floored cages.

Democrats blasted such treatment as “barbaric,” while a few of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans also voiced concern as the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives moved toward voting later this week on two pieces of immigration-related legislation.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, appointed by Trump, told reporters at a White House briefing that the administration was only strictly enforcing the law.

“This administration did not create a policy of separating families. ... What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law,” she said.

The outcry over the detained children resulted from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which provides for the arrest of all adults caught trying to enter the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum.

While parents are held in jail, their children are sent to separate detention facilities, some in remote locations. Video footage released by the government showed migrant children held in wire cages, sitting on concrete floors.

An audio recording said to capture the sounds of immigrant children crying in a detention facility was circulating online. Reuters could not independently verify its authenticity.

Trump administration officials say the zero-tolerance policy, which was not practiced by the two previous presidents, is needed to secure the border and deter illegal immigration.

But Democrats and some Republicans have admonished the administration for dividing nearly 2,000 children from their parents between mid-April and the end of May.

“The increasing number of children being ripped away from their parents is sickening,” said Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. “Yet the president and his administration continue to perpetuate falsehoods and blame others for their own cruelty.”

After visiting an immigration detention center in San Diego, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: “Our message to Mr. Trump is, stop this inhumane, barbaric policy.” Pelosi also called on Nielsen to resign from her post over the dispute.

MICROSOFT VOICES ‘DISMAY’

Seattle-based software company Microsoft Corp, one of America’s largest businesses, said in a statement it was “dismayed” by the situation. “We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families,” it said.

Trump, whose promise to crack down on illegal immigration was a major theme of his 2016 campaign and one he has carried into his presidency, responded sharply to critics on Monday.

Children inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility at the Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center in Texas. CBP/via REUTERS

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