US President Donald Trump faces mounting public pressure over his “zero tolerance” policy of splitting migrant families and sending children to detention centers.
Thousands of people have been protesting in several US cities in recent days and activists are planning nationwide protests on June 30 following reports on the inhumane treatment of immigrants along the US border with Mexico.
In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented migrants and refugees, promising to prosecute those who crossed the southern border illegally. Part of that approach has been separating children from their parents who are detained.
Congressional Republicans, who met with Trump on Capitol Hill Tuesday, received unclear orders from the president over his immigration policy.
Representative Mark Meadows said Trump had told Republican members of the House at the meeting that they needed to get something done on immigration “right away.”
Trump said separating families was “certainly not an attractive thing and does look bad,” added Representative Tom Cole.
The White House said afterward that the president “endorsed both House immigration bills,” which also provide funding for his promised border wall and close “legal loopholes.”
On Friday, Trump had said that he would oppose an immigration proposal, which was one of the two immigration measures crafted by Republicans.
Hours later, the White House said that Trump would support the proposal, which was seen as a compromise between moderate and conservative factions.
However, after the meeting on Tuesday, it was still unclear whether the president would endorse either of the bills, dashing GOP hopes for presidential momentum.
“It’s always nice to see the president but this didn’t move the ball,” one Republican lawmaker said.
Departing Capitol Hill, Trump said he had a “great meeting” with his fellow Republicans.
“These are laws that have been broken for many years, decades,” Trump said. “But we had a great meeting.”
Trump has promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico to stop immigrants from entering the US and threatened to deploy National Guards to bolster security along the border.