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Trump's Executive Order To End Family Separation Hasn't Quieted Protesters

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The immigration battles that have dominated the last several weeks continue to swirl here in Washington. A day after President Trump caved on his policy of separating children from their parents, he held fast to his zero tolerance policy and continued to call on Congress to act.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The only real solution is for Congress to close the catch-and-release loopholes that have fueled the child smuggling industry. The Democrats are causing tremendous damage and destruction and lives by not doing something about this.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

So in fact, Congress did spend today trying to pass an immigration bill that could get enough support to pass the House. A conservative bill failed, and a vote on a version negotiated by House leadership was postponed until tomorrow. We're going to hear more about that in a few minutes. All of this was playing out in Washington while anger and confusion over the family separation policies continues to play out along the U.S.-Mexico border.

CORNISH: Mallory Falk reports on a delegation of U.S. mayors who visited in Tornillo, Texas, the site of a new tent encampment for migrant children. The group is calling for the immediate reunification of all migrant families who have been separated at the border.

MALLORY FALK, BYLINE: The mayor stood less than half a mile from the large white tents that went up earlier this month to hold immigrant children. Stephen Benjamin is mayor of Columbia, S.C. He says the delegation tried to get in, but they were denied.

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STEPHEN BENJAMIN: We wanted to, as the elected leaders of our various cities, to be able to lay eyes on these children, to be able to go back to the people that we represent both individually and collectively to say that we've laid eyes on these children and this is what is happening.

FALK: Instead, he says officials told them to submit a formal request that could take two weeks to get approved. The group of nearly 20 mayors traveled from as close as El Paso 30 miles away and as far as New York City and Miami. They expressed frustration at the government's lack of transparency about what will happen to the children in Tornillo and to the more than 2,000 children who've been separated from their parents since early May. Here's Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

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FRANCIS SUAREZ: There are still a ton of unanswered questions. When are these children going to be reunited with their families? What kind of conditions are they living in? Why are we, a bipartisan, nonpartisan group, being denied access to these facilities? What is - what's there to hide?

FALK: Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles says city mayors need more information from the government because the problem has now become their own. He says over a hundred children have come to LA.

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ERIC GARCETTI: We don't know any information about them. We have to find out from activists instead of from the government.

FALK: Along the border, some lawyers questioned whether Trump's executive order to end family separation is realistic. Maureen Franco as federal public defender for Texas' Western District. Speaking in her office, she said if the zero tolerance policy continues and all illegal entries are prosecuted, it's hard to imagine where and how families will be housed.

MAUREEN FRANCO: I could see real chaos because you have to have trained caseworkers. And, you know, I mean, are we going to have guards? Are we going to have volunteers? Are there going to be pediatricians there? Are there going to be, you know, facilities for children to have safe play? I don't know what that looks like. I just - I can't envision it.

FALK: For many along the border, there are still numerous questions that need to be answered about zero tolerance, border security and how this will all play out for families and children. For NPR News, I'm Mallory Falk in Tornillo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.