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Inasmuch the law that enables authorities to separate families crossing illegally into the U.S. has been in the books through Democratic and Republican administrations, it is President Trump's (and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions') "zero-tolerance policy" that has resulted in hundreds of children, some of them toddlers, being separated from their parents in heart-rending scenes that had outraged much of America and the world.

The president was speaking in Washington at the National Federation of Independent Business' 75th Anniversary celebration, and touched on the controversial separations of of migrant families.

"Congress should pass legislation to prevent the separation of children from their parents while they are waiting adjudication of their legal status in the USA", he said in a statement.

Propublica released audio of children screaming and crying after they were separated from their immigrant parents by Trump and Sessions's draconian "zero tolerance" policy. Listen to it here, it's absolutely heartbreaking. Their children are then classified as "unaccompanied minors" and are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement.

It's estimated that around 2,000 children have been separated from their families since the policy began.

"We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families altogether", Trump said Tuesday, "and bring them back to their country".

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Under previous United States administrations, undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border for the first time tended to be issued with court summons for a later date. When asked what he was doing to help the children in detention centers, he responded, "I appreciate you're critical of the leadership in this country, but where in the hell is the leadership in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador?"

Pointing to reports that the administration expects to take hundreds of children at the border "every day for the next two months", Markey called Tuesday for passage of the Democrat-backed bill.

The president has sought to link an end to the family separations to passage of a wider bill on immigration matters, prompting Democrats to accuse him of using children as hostages.

"The U.S. Justice Department is ignoring its legal and moral obligation for the sake of a political agenda at the expense of children and the efforts of state law enforcement officials combating crimes like human trafficking, drug trafficking and gang violence which operate across worldwide borders", Balderas said in a statement. "We need safety. We have to take care of our people".

In an audio recording obtained by ProPublica investigative news site, which was widely circulated online and in USA media, children said to be in a detention facility could be heard crying and calling for their parents.

Kirstjen Nielsen told a police conference in Louisiana the young people are being well taken care of in USA detention centres.

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Trump also expressed disappointment with America's southern neighbor. "These children did not make the choice to cross the border and shouldn't be punished for it", she said.

The president went to the U.S. Capitol Tuesday evening to speak with the Republican Party conference of the House of Representatives.

Over the weekend, protesters rallied against the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration crackdown, accusing White House and USA immigration officials of cruelty.

The fate of that bill is unclear, as the White House has sent mixed messages on whether Mr Trump supports it or an alternative, more conservative immigration measure also expected to receive a vote.

"They are fake", he said.

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