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The Latest Political Headlines

    As a crisis of migrant children separated from their families provoked national outrage, President Donald Trump said he was powerless to act through an executive order. Five days later, he did just that. The president's abrupt about-face laid bare the administration's capricious use of executive power as it presses forward with a crackdown on illegal immigration, first ensnaring children in its 'zero tolerance' prosecution policy, then coming up with a 'stopgap' reprieve in the face of global condemnation. The president who had declared as a candidate that 'I alone can fix' the nation's problems in recent weeks threw up his arms and said only Congress could solve the problem of children being separated from their parents — and then reversed course once again. What changed? Brookings Institution senior fellow Bill Galston, a presidential scholar and a Clinton White House official, described it as 'classic blame shifting' in the face of mounting bipartisan criticism and amid heartbreaking tales of toddlers kept from their parents. The president, he said, was in an 'unsustainable position and would like to be bailed out of it without having to admit fault.' White House officials, advocates and congressional leaders were blindsided Wednesday when word emerged that Trump was considering doing precisely what he'd forcefully claimed he couldn't do — act unilaterally to quell a growing humanitarian and political crisis. The four-page order he signed will keep together children and parents apprehended for crossing the border illegally for at least 20 days, and directs the Justice Department to fight in court to permanently remove the threat of separation. Trump acted after encountering mushrooming blowback from Democrats, Republicans, evangelical leaders, former first ladies — even the pope. But White House officials offered little explanation for the reversal or why the president didn't act sooner. It was a rare public step-down from the president in the face of a monumental self-imposed crisis. 'I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,' Trump said. Family separations soared after the Justice Department's April announcement that all unlawful border crossings would be criminally prosecuted set in motion what officials described alternately as a predictable chain of unintended consequences, or a deliberate effort to pressure Congress to finally enact the president's immigration priorities. As distressing images and audio of bereft children emerged, Trump found himself lobbied privately by his wife and eldest daughter to do more. 'The first lady has been making her opinion known to the president for some time now,' a White House official said, 'which was that he needed to do all he could to help families stay together, whether it was by working with Congress or anything he could do on his own.' The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe her thinking. White House spokesman Raj Shah said Ivanka Trump had phoned lawmakers on Capitol Hill to echo the president's call to pass legislation to solve the issue completely. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who became the face of the family separations with her combative press briefing Monday, began to have second thoughts of her own. On Monday evening, she faced protesters at her home. On Tuesday, she was heckled out of a Mexican restaurant. Alumni of her Berkeley, California, high school circulated an open letter of condemnation. Nielsen pushed the president to find a way to de-escalate the situation, said two officials, who were not authorized to describe the discussions and requested anonymity. That came in the form of the executive order, which Justice Department lawyers had drafted in the days earlier in case the president should want that option. Wednesday morning, he ordered attorneys to get it ready for his signature. The order stated: 'It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.' But despite the presidential pomp — Trump gave Nielsen the marker he used to sign the order — the president's action is unlikely to completely fix the problem. It would keep children detained together with their parents as they await criminal prosecution and deportation, potentially indefinitely. The more than 2,000 children who already have been moved to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services won't be immediately reunited with family members. And a top Justice Department official, Gene Hamilton, described the order as a 'stopgap' fix to give the courts or Congress time to overturn the 20-day limitation on the detention of children in Department of Homeland Security facilities. If neither branch acts within 20 days, newly detained families may again be separated. On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders were caught off-guard by Trump's sudden reversal, according to senior GOP aides who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name. House Speaker Paul Ryan heard about it as he was taking wayward GOP lawmakers to a midday meeting with Trump at the White House to cajole them to vote for a sweeping immigration bill. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office learned about it from an Associated Press news alert just before the Californian and his staff gathered for their daily meeting. Trump's decision came as Republicans in the House had hoped they were on the verge of bridging internal divisions to pass a wide-ranging election-year immigration bill to provide deportation protections for so-called Dreamers and funding for Trump's border wall. White House legislative officials watched as the president's action threatened a delicately negotiated balance between conservative and moderate House Republicans. A so-called compromise bill between GOP factions had been teetering on brink of collapse ever since it was introduced last week. Trump had largely stayed on the sidelines of the talks but inserted himself Friday morning when he told reporters at an impromptu press conference he would not sign it. GOP leaders quickly convinced Trump to reverse course and hours later he tweeted his support. Arrangements were made for a quick Trump visit to Capitol Hill late Tuesday to reinforce his endorsement. And as the crisis at the border escalated, House GOP leaders added a provision to address the family-separation matter. But when Trump visited with House Republicans on Tuesday, he spent considerable time showcasing unrelated accomplishments, recognizing his supporters and mocking his political opponents. He did call on Congress to alleviate the plight of the separated children — but reiterated that his hands were tied. ___ Associated Press writers Lisa Moscaro, Jill Colvin and Colleen Long contributed to this report.
  • Cincinnati resident Andrew Pappas supported President Donald Trump's decision to separate children from parents who crossed the border illegally because, he said, it got Congress talking about immigration reform. Niurka Lopez of Michigan said Trump's 'zero-tolerance' policy made sense because her family came to the U.S. legally from Cuba and everyone else should, too. Die-hard Trump supporters remained steadfast even as heart-rending photos of children held in cages and audio of terrified children crying out for their parents stoked outrage among Democrats and Republicans alike. They said they believed Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen when they falsely claimed that they had no choice but to enforce an existing law. When Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end forced separations on his own, they shrugged. The end, they suggested, justified the means. And it was the fault of Congress rather than Trump. 'The optics of what's happening here directly at the border isn't something that he wants to have on his watch, but at the end of the day, he still wants to focus the attention of Congress on the fundamental need for immigration reform in the United States and I think he's gonna hold firm on that,' said Pappas, 53. 'His goal was not to rip families apart, I think his goal was to make Congress act on immigration reform,' Pappas added. 'And now ... everyone's talking about immigration reform and I think President Trump is getting exactly what he wants.' Sixty-five-year-old Richard Klabechek of Oak Grove, Minnesota, who attended the president's rally Wednesday evening in Duluth, Minnesota, said he was unmoved by the audio of crying children, saying it was 'the media playing the heartstrings of the public.' And he said Trump was simply being Trump. 'I think Trump takes issues on in his own direct way, but it doesn't fit the politically correct narrative of the media or the Democrats,' said Klabecheck, who is retired. Lopez, 54, said Trump 'really cares for the United States of America and the people of the United States of America and to protect us from people that want to hurt us.' Others shared her assessment. John Trandem, 42, who owns an automotive services company near Fargo, North Dakota, said he has supported all of Trump's decisions during the border controversy. 'He's certainly not a man without compassion. He's not a monster as he's being framed by the media and by the left,' said Trandem, who was a delegate at the 2016 Republican convention where Trump clinched the nomination for president. 'He recognizes that it's a very challenging issue. ... Nobody wants to see parents and children separated, but ... the blame should be put squarely back on the shoulders of the people who broke the law in the first place.' Trump voter Terry Welch of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, said he blames Congress and its GOP leadership for not reforming immigration laws, though he admits he doesn't like Trump as a person. 'It's a terrible situation,' Welch, 43, said of the distraught children. 'I think everybody believes that.' Still, he said the president's dramatic reversal on separating children won't solve anything: 'I see that as placating people.' ___ Associated Press reporters Adam Kealoha Causey in Oklahoma City; Mike Householder in Lansing, Michigan; Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky; Tammy Webber in Chicago; Amy Forliti in Duluth, Minnesota; Doug Glass in Minneapolis and Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.
  • As the White House struggles to move past another self-imposed crisis, Democrats are fighting to ensure this one isn't quickly forgotten. Fiery Democratic leaders from Vermont to New Jersey to Texas met President Donald Trump's executive order to stop dividing immigrant families with deep skepticism, promising waves of protests, border visits and congressional oversight to shine new light on the Republican administration's immigration tactics. 'I'm still on the highest level of alert. I still think we're in a state of national crisis,' New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told The Associated Press in an interview. Yet for all the outrage, the fallout from Trump's policy to separate children from their parents at the border — and his subsequent reversal on Wednesday — highlighted a scattershot strategy from a Democratic Party still searching for new leadership and a consistent message as the Trump presidency stretches deeper into its second year. The kitchen-sink approach comes as Democrats work to sustain the energy of the Trump resistance heading into this fall's midterm elections when the GOP's House and Senate majorities are at stake. At the same time, the Democratic Party's most ambitious were eager to play a leading role in the high-profile immigration debate as a possible precursor to the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Some Democrats in Congress called for Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign. Others railed against what they called Trump's human rights violations at the border. Liberal activists pushed forward with plans to host protests across more than 200 U.S. cities at the end of the month. And at least one Democrat, Maine Senate candidate Zak Ringelstein, was preparing to risk arrest outside a Texas detention facility to highlight the plight of young immigrants. Ringelstein said would deliver water, toys and books to imprisoned children in McAllen, Texas, later this week whether federal immigration authorities let him in or not. 'If that means I get arrested, I get arrested. So be it,' he told the AP. There could be political risks to the bold rhetoric. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, warned that Democrats risk voter backlash if they oppose GOP efforts to address the problem in Congress. Democrats 'are conflicted,' he said, because they 'like the narrative' of blaming Trump for separating families. The Texas Republican added: 'If they don't appear to be willing to meet us halfway, I think their using this for partisan purposes will be exposed.' Still, Republicans were decidedly on the defensive for most of the last week on an issue that could have lasting impact on the political battlefield in 2018 and beyond. Photos of young children in chain-link cells and audio recordings of their emotional cries unleashed a flood of public disapproval in recent days as the Republican president falsely blamed Democrats for his hard-line policy of separating parents from their children at the border. In many ways, it marked a new political low point for the Trump administration, which had vowed the day before not to bend to political pressure. After Trump relented, the Democratic response was far from consistent or coordinated. It seemed at times that it was every man and woman for themselves. Former President Barack Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, issued separate, uncoordinated statements on social media condemning Trump's policy. Biden, who has not ruled out a presidential run in 2020, said the Republican administration threatened to turn the United States into the world's 'pariah.' 'Stand up. Show up. Speak out,' Biden wrote. 'No one, not even a president, can change who we are as America and what we stand for — if we the people stand united and unleash all that power that is in our hands.' Iowa voters learned that another 2020 prospect, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, was canceling a weekend appearance in the leadoff presidential caucus state to attend a demonstration at a refugee tent city along the U.S-Mexico border. In an interview, Castro said Trump's new order is a valid remedy only if children are immediately and humanely reunited with their parents. Republicans have no hope of retaining the congressional majority this fall, Castro predicted, should they continue to adopt restrictive immigration measures. 'The president may be signing an executive order backing down, which he never does, because he's offended our sense of morality,' Castro said. 'He's crossed a line, whether he realizes he's crossed it or not.' Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran for president in 2016 and may do so again, lashed out at the Trump administration's family separation policy as a 'human rights violation' that's doing lasting damage to the families involved. He suggested that only the 'very naive' would believe that Trump's executive order had completely resolved the problem. Sanders said several Trump Cabinet members should step down in general, including Nielsen. He doesn't blame her for the latest controversy, however. 'The issue right now is President Trump,' Sanders said. 'It's not her. Trump makes the decision.' California Sen. Kamala Harris, who called earlier this week for Nielsen's resignation, plans to visit a San Diego detention facility Friday and meet privately with mothers who have been separated from their children. 'This executive order in no way deals with reuniting the (asterisk)two thousand three hundred(asterisk) children who have been torn away from their parents and remain separated,' she wrote on Twitter. 'When will they see their parents again? They must be reunited immediately.' In a conference call with reporters, liberal activists promised to begin running ads in key House races that would highlight audio recordings of crying immigrant children being mocked by immigration officials. They also raised a series of new questions for the Trump administration, including whether White House policy director Stephen Miller, who helped design the family-separation policy, would be disciplined. 'The public outrage and grassroots fury about families being ripped apart has blown past even the health care fight. I've never seen anything like it,' said Ben Wikler of the group MoveOn. 'These fights tend to shift the underlying political ground.' ___ Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, Bill Barrow in Atlanta and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.
  • Kirstjen Nielsen has one hard-earned presidential signing pen. President Donald Trump used the black marker Wednesday to sign an executive order halting family separations at the U.S. border — then handed it to Nielsen, his Homeland Security secretary. Such pens are typically framed and displayed in lobbies and office waiting areas all over Washington as trophies of presidential proximity and power. Nielsen's was tougher to come by than most. By the time Trump used it to reverse his policy, Nielsen had been both yelled at and praised by Trump and pilloried for repeating his falsehoods. She was forced to deny that the policy amounted to child abuse. On Tuesday night, she cut short a working dinner at a Mexican restaurant after protesters shouted, 'Shame!' until, finally, she left. Yet there she stood Wednesday in the Oval Office, right at Trump's side, as he reversed the policy she had defended — and had vowed the administration would not apologize for. With Vice President Mike Pence at Trump's opposite shoulder, the president invited Nielsen to speak. She thanked him for his leadership. 'Great job,' Trump said over his shoulder to her. He signed the order and handed Nielsen the pen. With that, Nielsen was apparently back in the president's good graces. But fairly or not, the Georgetown and University of Virginia-educated lawyer will probably always be the face of a policy that ignited nearly ubiquitous outrage. According to people close to the secretary, family separations weren't her idea. One person who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Nielsen had been 'working nonstop' to find a solution. The polarizing path Nielsen has taken is somewhat surprising for a government bureaucrat and policy wonk known more for her loyalty to White House chief of staff John Kelly and her expertise in cybersecurity than for the hard-line immigration views espoused by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House adviser Stephen Miller. Nielsen, 46, was considered an expert in both homeland and national security policy who worked in President George W. Bush's administration and had a role in its handling of Hurricane Katrina. Two years after the 2005 hurricane, Congress issued reports that faulted the White House Homeland Security Council — where Nielsen directed preparedness and response — for failing to take the lead in staying on top of the unfolding disaster. Following Trump's election, Nielsen joined the transition team to help guide Kelly through the confirmation process to become Trump's secretary of Homeland Security. Nielsen quickly won the retired general's trust, impressing him with her work ethic and command of the issues. Trump eventually tapped Nielsen to take over as head of DHS, and the Senate confirmed her Dec. 5. By April, Sessions announced there would be 'zero tolerance' at the border for people crossing illegally. That meant that anyone who did not arrive at a designated port of entry and claimed asylum would be arrested. As public backlash grew, Nielsen misled the public by denying that separating families was part of U.S. policy. While the policy never specifically called for children to be taken from parents, separation became inevitable. That's because adults were detained and charged — and any children traveling with them couldn't go to jail. Nielsen, like Trump, also suggested that it was up to Congress to fix the problem — even though the enforcement of laws happens at the president's discretion. The Bush and Obama administrations largely allowed families to stay together. While her allies say she was merely following the law, it is likely there was another reason Nielsen tirelessly defended the policy: She has a track record of working to make her bosses happy. Also, her history with Trump was bumpy. Earlier this spring, Trump had unloaded on Nielsen during a Cabinet meeting over an increase in border apprehensions and legal setbacks, according to people familiar with the exchange but not authorized to speak publicly. Nielsen, one person said, tried to explain that the issues were complex and that the department's powers were limited by legal restrictions. She told the president her team was doing everything it could, but the president was left unconvinced. After news of the dressing-down spread, Nielsen did not deny the meeting had grown heated and issued a statement saying, 'I share his frustration.' ___ Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Jill Colvin contributed to this report. ___ Follow Kellman and Flaherty at http://www.twitter.com/@APLaurieKellman and http://www.twitter.com/@AnneKFlaherty
  • A sweeping House GOP immigration overhaul teetered on the brink of collapse Thursday as lawmakers struggled to move past an issue that has become politically fraught amid the dire images of families being separated at the border. President Donald Trump's sudden executive action over the border crisis stemmed some of the urgency for Congress to act. But House GOP leaders still were pulling out the stops to bring reluctant Republicans on board in hopes of resolving broader immigration issues ahead of the November midterm election. Passage of the bill was always a long shot, but failure may now come at a steeper price as Republicans — and Trump — have raised expectations that, as the party in control of Congress and the White House, they can fix the nation's long-standing immigration problems. 'This is a bill that has consensus. This is a bill that the president supports. It's a bill that could become law,' said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The outcome remains uncertain despite a frenzied effort to pull in the final votes. House Speaker Paul Ryan took two dozen wavering lawmakers to the White House so Trump could cajole them into supporting the bill. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen trekked to the Capitol to meet privately with groups of GOP lawmakers. Ahead of voting Thursday, the results of the outreach were mixed. 'We have a chance,' said Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla. 'It won't be easy.' One Republican, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, announced he would support the legislation after meeting with Trump, who he said was persuasive. Another, Rep. Lou Barletta, who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania, told Trump at the meeting he would have to remain a no vote. 'I didn't want my name attached to that,' he said of the bill he decried as amnesty for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. The House GOP compromise bill is the product of hard-fought negotiations between the conservative and moderate factions that dragged on for several weeks. The measure is unlikely to pick up much, if any, Democratic support. The House will also vote on a more hard-line immigration proposal favored by conservatives. It is expected to fail. The nearly 300-page compromise measure creates a path way to citizenship for the young immigrants known as Dreamers, who have been living in the U.S. illegally since childhood. It provides $25 billion Trump wants for his promised border wall from Mexico. And it revises the longstanding preference for family visas in favor of a merit system based on education level and work skills. When the crisis of family separations erupted at the border, GOP leaders revised the bill to bolster a provision requiring parents and children to be held together in custody. It did so by eliminating the 20-day cap on holding minors and allowing indefinite detentions. Even though Trump has acted unilaterally to stem the family separations, lawmakers still prefer a legislative fix. The administration is not ending its 'zero tolerance' approach to border prosecutions. If the new policy is rejected by the courts, which the administration acknowledges is a possibility, the debate could move back to square one. Senate Republicans, fearing Trump's action will not withstand a legal challenge and eager to go on record opposing the administration's policy, have unveiled their own legislation to keep detained immigrant families together. Back in the House, despite Trump's endorsement of the compromise bill, Ryan's leadership team has been struggling to ensure passage on its own. They have encountered persistent GOP divisions that have long prevented Republicans from tackling a broad immigration bill. New problems erupted late Wednesday, on the eve of voting, when a key negotiator of the compromise, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, engaged in lively conversation with Ryan on the House floor. Meadows said he was now opposing the bill. 'Let me put it this way: The compromise bill is not ready for prime time, and hopefully we'll be able to make it ready for prime time,' Meadows said. When a reporter said he yelled at Ryan, Meadows replied, 'Oh, no, I was passionate. I was not yelling.' Moderate Republicans forced the immigration debate to the fore by threatening to use a rare procedure to demand a vote. Led by Curbelo and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., many are from states with large populations of young 'Dreamer' immigrants who now face deportation threats under Trump's decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A federal court challenge has kept the DACA program running for now. Ryan wanted to prevent moderates from being able to force a vote and launched weeks of negotiations to develop the compromise package with Meadows and conservatives. Trump, who remained on the sidelines for much of the debate, almost upended the process late last week by saying he would not back the compromise bill. GOP aides later said he had been confused. Trump quickly reversed course to back the bill and swooped into the Capitol for a late huddle Tuesday with Republicans. But even Trump's visit left lawmakers uncertain because he said he supported the compromise bill as well as a rival conservative measure that is also coming for a vote Thursday. That left leaders scrambling Wednesday to ensure rank-and file lawmakers that Trump would stick with them. Many Republicans fear a backlash from the Republican base if they vote for the legislation and Trump turns against it. Even if the House approves the bill, passage in the Senate appears unlikely. Republican senators are working on a narrower bill that focuses only on the crisis of family separations at the border. ___ Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.
  • Ivanka Trump, the presidential adviser who has billed herself as a 'force for good' in the administration, remained silent for days as the firestorm over forced separations of migrant families consumed the White House. In a closed-door meeting with Republicans late Tuesday, President Donald Trump confided that his daughter urged him to find a solution. But despite days of heart-wrenching images of children being pulled from their immigrant parents, she stayed publicly quiet until Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order designed to keep families together. Then the first daughter tweeted, 'Thank you @POTUS for taking critical action ending family separation at our border,' and called on Congress to 'find a lasting solution that is consistent with our shared values.' Still, Ivanka Trump's conspicuous silence drew criticism as outrage mounted over the separations. And it wasn't the first time that Ivanka Trump, as well as her husband and fellow influential presidential adviser, Jared Kushner, had tried to fly under the radar during crisis and tumult in her father's administration. Kushner has been in the Middle East working on the administration's peace plan while cable news filled with emotional photos of children in cages and audio of kids crying for their parents at the Mexican border. And Ivanka Trump was in California this week, getting heckled on her way to a fundraiser for Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy. After Trump's Capitol Hill meeting, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., said the president 'mentioned that his daughter Ivanka encouraged him to end this. And he said that he does recognize that it needs to end, that the images are painful.' As he signed the executive order Wednesday, Trump stressed that he had heard from his daughter, saying, 'Ivanka feels very strongly' and 'I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don't like to see families separated.' White House spokesman Raj Shah said Ivanka Trump had made calls to congressional leaders, advocating for a fix. She was at a meeting Wednesday between Trump and lawmakers at the White House. Her prolonged silence was the latest example of the challenges and calculations faced by the first daughter as she seeks to promote a family-friendly agenda in an administration focused on hard-line immigration tactics and protectionist trade policies —under a president whose comments on race, gender and inclusivity have drawn bipartisan rebukes. First lady Melania Trump weighed in more quickly, with her office issuing a statement over the weekend saying she 'hates' to see families separated at the border. On Wednesday, a White House official said she 'has been making her opinion known' to her husband that he needs to do all he can to keep migrant families together. The mounting criticism mirrors the harsh spotlight on Ivanka Trump last summer for her silence after the deadly clash involving counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. At the time, the president pointedly refused to single out neo-Nazis and white supremacists, suggesting there was blame to be shared 'on both sides.' She also stayed quiet when her father unleashed a brutal attack on MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski, questioning her intelligence and saying she was 'bleeding badly from a face-lift' in a December encounter. At the time, Brzezinski and her co-host, Joe Scarborough, called on Ivanka Trump to condemn the remarks. Ivanka Trump was targeted recently by late-night comedian Samantha Bee over immigration policy, though Bee apologized for using a crude epithet to describe her. Last year, Ivanka Trump did offer strong words against Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, who was accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls during the late 1970s, when he was in his 30s. She told The Associated Press at the time: 'There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children. I've yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts.' After her father took office, Ivanka Trump said she aimed to 'be a force for good and to make a positive impact' in her White House role. Throughout her time in the administration, she has sought to position herself above the fray, arguing in interviews that her focus is on policy and that she is more effective working behind the scenes if she disagrees with her father. While liberal critics have expressed frustration that she has not done more to temper her father's conservative agenda, Ivanka Trump has made clear that she sees limitations to her role. 'I came here with specific areas I could add value,' she said last year in an AP interview. 'In the areas I don't agree, I state my opinion.' She and her husband also got criticized by some in the West Wing for being absent during difficult moments; they were off on a ski vacation when the GOP's health care plan collapsed last year. The crisis at the border has upended the White House, even as the president has told confidants he thinks being tough on immigration will be a winning issue for Republicans in this fall's midterm elections. ___ Lemire reported from New York. ___ Follow Lucey on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@catherine_lucey and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
  • Hours after reversing himself to end the forced separations of migrant families, President Donald Trump returned to the warm embrace of his supporters at a raucous rally to defend his hard-line immigration policies while unleashing a torrent of grievances about the media and those investigating him. Trump downplayed the crisis that has threatened to envelop the White House amid days of heart-wrenching images of children being pulled from their immigrant parents along the nation's southern border. He made only a brief mention of his decision to sign an executive order after spending days insisting, wrongly, that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of federal law and a court decision. 'We're going to keep families together and the border is going to be just as tough as it's been,' Trump told the cheering crowd in Duluth on Wednesday night. Seemingly motivated to promote his hawkish immigration bona fides after his about-face on forced separations, the president denounced his political opponents and those who make unauthorized border crossings, suggesting that the money used to care for those immigrants could be better spent on the nation's rural communities and inner cities. 'Democrats put illegal immigrants before they put American citizens. What the hell is going on?' asked Trump, prompting the crowd to chant 'Build the wall!' He even invoked his campaign kickoff speech, held three years ago this week, in which he declared that Mexico 'wasn't sending their best' in terms of migrants crossing into the U.S. That wasn't the only throwback moment at the rally, featuring a packed arena festooned with American flags and approximately 8,000 people responding in chants to many of Trump's cues. He fumed over what he deemed 'dishonest' coverage of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He raved about the economy and his tough new tariffs meant to create fair trade. And he erroneously suggested that a recent Justice Department watchdog report into the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe proved his innocence in the special counsel's Russia investigation while covering up Clinton's guilt. 'Have you been seeing this whole scam? Do you believe what you're seeing — how that no matter what she did, no matter how many crimes she committed, which were numerous, they wanted her to be innocent,' Trump said. 'But with me, nothing. No collusion, no nothing. They wanted to put us in trouble.' The crowd responded with a 'Lock her up!' chant. Trump simply shook his head. Again attacking the special counsel probe as a 'witch hunt,' Trump went on to blast the media for focusing on the recent immigration crisis at the expense of covering what he contends is bias against him at the FBI. He also accused the media of providing one-sided reports about his Singapore summit with Kim. 'We had a great meeting. We had great chemistry,' said Trump, who predicted that Kim 'will turn that country into a great successful country.' 'These people,' said Trump, gesturing to the media at the back of the arena, 'say, 'He's given away so much.' You know what I gave up? A meeting.' The Duluth rally was Trump's first in a blue state since taking office. He narrowly lost Minnesota in 2016. And with the industrial and upper Midwest looming large for Trump's re-election hopes, the president vowed to spend more time there before 2020. 'You know, I hate to bring this up, but we came this close to winning the state of Minnesota,' the president said. 'And in 2½ years, it's going to be really easy, I think.' Trump was in Minnesota to back Pete Stauber, a Republican congressional candidate running in a traditionally Democratic district. Home of the Iron Range, Minnesota is a place where Trump's tariffs on foreign steel could play especially well. While economists wince and farmers brace for blowback, the crowd cheered when tariffs were mentioned on Wednesday. Trump also held a small roundtable with representatives from the mining industry and local leaders before the rally. Trump brought Stauber to the stage and offered an enthusiastic endorsement. But he made no mention of the state's GOP gubernatorial primary to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. It pits former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Trump critic running for his old job, against Jeff Johnson, the state GOP's endorsed candidate who has been stronger in his support of the president. Energized by the roaring crowd in his first rally since the Singapore summit, Trump soaked in the applause and caustically dismissed a few protesters who tried to interrupt. He beamed as the crowd chanted 'Space Force!' in response to his plan to create a new branch of the military to safeguard the cosmos. And he leaned hard into his self-appointed role as champion of the working class and defender of traditional American values, but also mocked the idea that his opponents — whether liberals or media executives — were always called 'the elite.' 'The elite! Why are they elite?' Trump wondered. 'I have a much better apartment than they do. I'm smarter than they are. I'm richer than they are. I became president and they didn't.' ___ Lemire reported from New York ___ Follow Colvin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@colvinj and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
  • Cincinnati resident Andrew Pappas supported President Trump's decision to separate children from parents who crossed the border illegally because, he said, it got Congress talking about immigration reform. Niurka Lopez of Michigan said Trump's 'zero-tolerance' policy made sense because her family came to the U.S. legally from Cuba and everyone else should, too. Die-hard Trump supporters remained steadfast even as heart-rending photos of children held in cages and audio of terrified children crying out for their parents stoked outrage among Democrats and Republicans alike. They said they believed Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen when they falsely claimed that they had no choice but to enforce an existing law. When Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end forced separations on his own, they shrugged. The end, they suggested, justified the means. And it was the fault of Congress rather than Trump. 'The optics of what's happening here directly at the border isn't something that he wants to have on his watch, but at the end of the day, he still wants to focus the attention of Congress on the fundamental need for immigration reform in the United States and I think he's gonna hold firm on that,' said Pappas, 53. 'His goal was not to rip families apart, I think his goal was to make Congress act on immigration reform,' Pappas added. 'And now ...everyone's talking about immigration reform and I think President Trump is getting exactly what he wants.' Sixty-five-year-old Richard Klabechek of Oak Grove, Minnesota, who attended the president's rally Wednesday evening in Duluth, Minnesota, said he was unmoved by the audio of crying children, saying it was 'the media playing the heartstrings of the public.' And he said Trump was simply being Trump. 'I think Trump takes issues on in his own direct way, but it doesn't fit the politically correct narrative of the media or the Democrats,' said Klabecheck, who is retired. Lopez, 54, said Trump 'really cares for the United States of America and the people of the United States of America and to protect us from people that want to hurt us.' Others shared her assessment. John Trandem, 42, who owns an automotive services company near Fargo, North Dakota, said he has supported all of Trump's decisions during the border controversy. 'He's certainly not a man without compassion. He's not a monster as he's being framed by the media and by the left,' said Trandem, who was a delegate at the 2016 Republican convention where Trump clinched the nomination for president. 'He recognizes that it's a very challenging issue. ... Nobody wants to see parents and children separated, but ... the blame should be put squarely back on the shoulders of the people who broke the law in the first place.' Trump voter Terry Welch of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, said he blames Congress and its GOP leadership for not reforming immigration laws, though he admits he doesn't like Trump as a person. 'It's a terrible situation,' Welch, 43, said of the distraught children. 'I think everybody believes that.' Still, he said the president's dramatic reversal on separating children won't solve anything: 'I see that as placating people.' ___ Associated Press reporters Adam Kealoha Causey in Oklahoma City; Mike Householder in Lansing, Michigan; Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky; Tammy Webber in Chicago; Amy Forliti in Duluth, Minnesota; Doug Glass in Minneapolis and Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on President Donald Trump's rally in Minnesota (all times local): 8 p.m. President Donald Trump is railing against the treatment of his 2016 rival Hillary Clinton at a rally Wednesday in Duluth, Minnesota. Trump is complaining about a Justice Department internal watchdog report that backed up the FBI's decision not to charge Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state. Trump asked a crowd of thousands at a packed hockey arena: 'Have you been seeing this whole scam?' He says that, 'No matter how many crimes she committed, which were numerous, they wanted her to be innocent, but with me ... they wanted to put us in trouble and it's not working too well.' Trump is also falsely accusing the media of making a big deal of immigration to distract the public from congressional inquiries into the Justice Department. __ 7:30 p.m. President Donald Trump is returning to his hardline immigration rhetoric hours after signing an executive order that will halt his administration's separation of migrant children from their parents after illegally crossing the border. Trump is telling a rowdy crowd of supporters in Duluth, Minnesota, 'We're going to keep families together but the border's going to be just as tough as it's been.' Trump is continuing to rail against Democrats, claiming they don't care about the negative effects of illegal immigration. And he's once again threatening to cut aid money to countries for failing to do more to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. border, or making the issue part of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Trump has been interrupted several times by protesters who have been led out without incident. __ 7:10 p.m. President Donald Trump is accusing the media of not giving him enough credit for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he kicks off a rally in Duluth, Minnesota. Trump says it's good news that he and Kim met in Singapore and says, 'Chairman Kim will turn that country into a great, successful country.' He says North Korea has shipped back remains from 200 service members who were killed in the Korean War. And he says Kim is committed to denuclearization. Trump is also offering a full-throated endorsement of GOP congressional candidate Pete Stauber. Stauber praised Trump, telling him, 'Mr. President, these people support you.' __ 6:15 p.m. President Donald Trump is talking up the economy as holds a pre-rally roundtable in Minnesota. Trump is promoting his approach to trade as he meets with representatives from the mining industry and local leaders Wednesday at Duluth Cargo Connect. He says 'billions' are 'pouring into the Treasury' as a result. He also addressed the executive order he signed earlier Wednesday that will stop the separation of families caught crossing the border illegally. He says the U.S. has the 'weakest' and 'most pathetic immigration laws anywhere in the world.' But he says things have to be done with 'compassion.' Trump narrowly lost Minnesota in 2016 and jokes that he would have won if he had made just one more speech. He says he has no doubt he'll win in 2020.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster was an early supporter of presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had never run for political office. McMaster's opponent said Wednesday it's inconsistent for McMaster to now say there's no time for on-the-job training where the governorship is concerned. 'I find it very ironic that he thinks no experience is a negative, when what you tout more than anything is your support from President Trump,' Warren said as the two met in the final debate before next week's GOP runoff. 'We need someone who's an outsider like Donald Trump to go to Columbia and drain the swamp.' McMaster insisted, however, 'The governorship is no real place for on-the-job training.' But Warren said his own private sector success shows he can manage the state effectively. McMaster, 71, was the top vote-getter in the June 12 GOP primary but fell short of the 50 percent needed to win the nomination outright. Warren came in second with 28 percent, and the third- and fourth-place candidates have both endorsed him. Trump has endorsed McMaster and will campaign in the state for him Monday, following a Saturday campaign stop from Vice President Mike Pence to the Myrtle Beach area. The president appeared at a fall fundraiser for McMaster, who as lieutenant governor was the first statewide-elected official in the nation to back his candidacy. Trump cleared the path for McMaster to become governor when he tapped then-Gov. Nikki Haley as his U.N. ambassador. On Wednesday, McMaster tried to parlay Trump's years of global business experience into the political realm, saying Trump 'has been involved in politics for decades. ... He's a world figure.' McMaster and Warren, 39, also sparred over who supports Trump more strongly. Asked what Trump should do differently in office, McMaster launched into a list of similarities he shares with the president, such as cutting regulations on businesses and aiming to cut taxes. Warren reminded McMaster that he actually first supported U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's presidential bid, only backing Trump when the South Carolina native quit the race. 'I did support Lindsey Graham,' McMaster countered, going on to call him South Carolina's 'favorite son' and pointing out that he backed Trump before South Carolina's primary, while Warren threw his support behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. 'I was supporting Mr. Trump when it counted. My opponent was supporting someone else.' Acknowledging his early support of Cruz, Warren observed that Graham has drawn challengers from far-right conservatives disappointed by his efforts at bipartisanship. 'I think thousands of conservatives across the state would agree that Lindsey Graham is not our favorite son,' Warren said. Trump remains popular in South Carolina, where McMaster said the president 'loves the people about as much as I do, if that's possible.' Noting Trump's popularity in the state that backed him with 55 percent of the general election vote, Warren said those numbers don't translate into support for his chosen candidate in the governor's race, or the runoff wouldn't have been necessary. 'Donald Trump has about a 90 percent approval here in South Carolina,' Warren said. 'If all his supporters supported Henry McMaster, we wouldn't be on this stage right now.' The winner of Tuesday's runoff faces Democratic state Rep. James Smith in the November general election. ___ Sign up for 'Politics in Focus,' a weekly newsletter showcasing the AP's best political reporting from across the United States leading up to the 2018 midterm elections: http://apne.ws/3Gzcraw. ___ Reach Kinnard at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read her work at https://apnews.com/search/meg%20kinnard.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A 17-year-old was shot and killed by police in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night after he allegedly ran away from a traffic stop on foot, authorities said. >> Read more trending news  The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Officer identified the teenager as Antwon Rose of Rankin. He attended Woodland Hills High School last year. Update 5:30 p.m. ET:  The mayor of East Pittsburgh confirmed that the officer involved in the shooting Tuesday night was sworn in to their department a few hours before. He has been an officer with other departments in the area for seven years. He still has not been identified. Update 4 p.m. ET:  The family of Antwon Rose has hired civil rights Attorney Lee Merritt to represent them. Merritt has previously represented the victims of violence in Charlottesville and several cases related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Update 2:53 p.m. ET:  Rose was shot three times while running from police, said Coleman McDonough, superintendent of the Allegheny County Police Department. McDonough said two guns were found in the car after the traffic stop, but Rose was not armed at the time of the shooting. The driver of the vehicle was initially detained by police. He has since been released, police said. A third person who was in the vehicle and fled has not been located. The East Pittsburgh police officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave. Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto released the following statement: “Any loss of life is tragic, and especially the loss of life of a child. This is a devastating situation and I am saddened for Antwon Rose and his family.  “While Tuesday's shooting was not within the city's official borders it impacts all of us in the Pittsburgh region, and particularly those in the African American community. In my reactions to the incident I should have acknowledged that these shootings affect all of us, no matter where we live, and for that I am sorry.  “Tuesday night I was receiving numerous calls and messages asking me to respond to the involvement of police in a shooting in East Pittsburgh borough, and at the time I was attempting to clarify for the national public that the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, which I ultimately oversee, were not involved.”   Original Story:  According to the Allegheny County Police Department, Rose got out of a vehicle that matched the description of a vehicle seen near a shooting that occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Kirkpatrick Avenue in North Braddock. >> Visit WPXI.com for the latest on this developing story The vehicle, which police said had damage from bullets to the back window, was stopped near Grandview Avenue and Howard Street. An officer from the East Pittsburgh Police Department was handcuffing the driver when two males ran from the car, police said. One of those males was Rose, according to officials. Rose was taken to McKeesport Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Allegheny County Police Department is asking the other person who ran away from the vehicle to turn himself in 'so that he can give a comprehensive description of what occurred.' The victim in the North Braddock shooting, a 22-year-old man, was treated for his injuries and released from an area trauma center. The Allegheny County Police Homicide Unit is investigating both incidents. 
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott has joined other leaders to urge the federal government to stop separating children from their parents when they enter the U.S. illegally. Scott sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday. Read: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen taunted by protesters as she eats at Mexican restaurant U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson accused the Trump administration of a cover-up after officials denied him entry Tuesday to a detention center for migrant children in South Florida where he had hoped to survey living conditions. Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Florida Democrats, went to the contractor-run Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children following reports it was receiving detained children who had arrived at the country illegally. Read: Sen. Nelson, other lawmakers denied entry to facility housing immigrant children in Florida Nelson said on the Senate floor Wednesday that he wanted to check to see if the facility was clean and wanted to see where the children were sleeping. .@SenBillNelson: “I wanted to see for myself. I wanted to see, is the facility clean? Are the children sleeping in beds? I also wanted to be able to talk to the young children, the ones who had been separated.” #WFTV — Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) June 20, 2018 Nelson said the deputy HHS secretary told him it was the department's policy that he would have to fill out a form and wait two weeks before a visit. Nelson told the Senate floor he filled out the form. 'Why do they not want the senator from Florida to get into this detention facility where there are children that have been separated from their parents?' Nelson asked. 'It must be that not only is this department policy, this is being directed from the president in the White House, and they don't want me to see it because they don't want us to know what is going on in there.' Read: Trump announces plan to keep migrant families together Wasserman Schultz said the facility was being used for an estimated 1,000 children, ages 13 to 17 -- most of whom arrived as unaccompanied minors and about 10 percent of whom are children separated from their families at the border. She said two other South Florida facilities were being used for younger children. At some point, the facility had been closed, but it reopened in February, officials said. Martin Levine was one of several protesters who demonstrated outside the Homestead Detention Facility Wednesday. 'The kids were totally innocent. Why not put them together with their parents, which is what the policy used to be?' he said. 'It's never too late to do the right thing. So I would praise him to do the right thing.' President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order, which requires authorities to stop separating immigrant families. 'I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,' Trump said. 'I consider this to be a very important executive order. It's about keeping families together.' The order doesn't outline a plan for reuniting the 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents. It's unknown when they'll be released. Immigration attorney Nayef Mubarak told Channel 9 the order is not a simple fix. 'What this does end is perhaps separating a mother and a child, each being in separate cells. But now these children will be in cells indefinitely until their court case has been concluded,' he said. 'It's clear here that these children are not getting out of these facilities, and there's no clear end as to when they're going to be getting out.' The order doesn't change the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy of prosecuting anyone who tries to cross the border illegally. Attorneys expect the order to be challenged in court. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Download: WFTV news and weather apps .@SenBillNelson: “The power to end this painful chapter in American history lies with the President and his pen.” #WFTV — Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) June 20, 2018 Watch below: Sen. Nelson speaks to Senate floor about denied entry to Homestead facility
  • Award-winning Getty Images photographer John Moore said he knew he had managed to capture the emotional impact of the Trump administration’s immigration policy just moments after photographing a young Honduran girl crying at her mother’s feet last week. >> Read more trending news The image appeared on television sets, computer screens and newspaper front pages around the globe. The photo spurred a California couple to start a fundraiser that has since raised millions of dollars to help migrants detained on suspicion of illegally crossing the border. It spurred public outrage over the immigration policy that led to the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. >> Couple raises more than $4.7 million to help reunite migrant children, parents Moore told The Washington Post that he noticed the girl when her mother stopped to breastfeed her in the middle of the road on June 12. She and dozens of other migrants, nearly all women and children, were stopped by the Border Patrol agents just after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas. “There was no place for privacy,” Moore told the Post. “(The mother) said they’d been on the road for a month, and they were from Honduras. I can only imagine what dangers she’d passed through, alone with the girl.” The woman gave Moore permission to follow her and her 2-year-old daughter as Border Patrol agents processed them, the Post reported. It was after agents confiscated their personal items, when the girl’s mother put her on the ground to allow an agent to search her, that the girl started to wail. The moment passed quickly. “I took a knee and had very few frames of that moment before it was over,” Moore told NPR. “And I knew at that moment that this point in their journey, which was very emotional for me to see them being detained, for them was just part of a very, very long journey.” Moore told the Post that the feeling he had after photographing the girl was similar to emotions he felt while covering war zones and Ebola wards abroad. 'Ever since I took those pictures, I think about that moment often. And it's emotional for me every time,' he told NPR. “I do not know what happened to them. I would very much like to know.” >> Trump border policy: How to help immigrant children separated from families The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. Parents have been separated from their children as they face prosecution. Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security. According to CNN, a spokesman later told them that the girl and mother in the viral photo were not separated. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border amid global criticism of the practice.
  • A woman said she was robbed at gunpoint in her own driveway after driving 80 miles home from a shopping trip. Police believe the robbers may have followed her from the shopping center in Atlanta to her home in Dalton. Brittany McEntire told WSB that two men robbed her at gunpoint about three weeks ago. Her mother, husband and three children were also in the driveway.  >> Read more trending news  McEntire said the two men ran up the driveway and took her two Louis Vuitton diaper bags and demanded all of her jewelry, including her late father’s ring that she cherishes. She said the whole robbery took less than a minute, but she has not regained her peace of mind. “I could’ve lost my whole family if they had started shooting,” McEntire told WSB. The suspects allegedly followed McEntire from Buckhead for about two hours in an unidentified white car, police said. McEntire said she is unsure why she was targeted because she did not take home many bags from the store.  “It was not a shopping spree,” McEntire said. Police believe the men will try to follow and rob more people.
  • President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border amid global criticism of the practice. Update 10:30 p.m. EDT June 20: Senate Democrats took a stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate against President Donald Trump’s immigration plan just hours after the president signed an executive order revoking his policy of separating migrant children from their parents during illegal border crossings. Democrats, who spoke from the Senate floor for two hours, warned that the executive order will worsen the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, The Hill reported. 'If you can imagine it what this executive order does is raise the possibility of children being in prison for very, very long periods of time. ... Does anybody really believe that we should be imprisoning for an indefinite period of time little children,' Sanders said. Update 6:45 p.m. EDT June 20: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order overturning his administration’s own policy of separating migrant families at the border. “I am glad the president took this step today,” McConnell tweeted. “When families with children breach our border, we should keep those families together whenever possible while our legal system fairly and promptly evaluates their status,” McConnell said. Update 6:30 p.m. EDT June 20: Some Republican senators have expressed relief that President Donald Trump rescinded the policy separating migrant families at the border. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who introduced legislation to address the family separation issue at the border, said Trump’s executive order was a good move, but that Congress needs to act. “I’m pleased the administration has agreed to keep families apprehended at the border together. We can have strong border security without separating parents from their children,” he said on Twitter. Update 6 p.m. EDT June 20: Democratic senators are weighing in on President Donald Trump’s decision to end the practice of separating children from their families during illegal border crossings. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Trump is actually “doubling down” on his zero tolerance policy with his signing of the executive order. “His new executive order criminalizes asylum-seekers and seeks to indefinitely detain their children,” Durbin said in a tweet. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) also tweeted that Trump’s executive order does not end the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. “ In fact, the President now wants to detain parents and children together indefinitely, and contemplates DoD building internment camps to house them. This is no solution to a problem Trump created,” Markey said. Update 4 p.m. EDT June 20: White House officials on Wednesday afternoon released the full text of the executive order signed by the president. >> Trump ends migrant family separations: Read the executive order In it, Trump directed officials to detain migrant families together. Officials have come under fire in recent months after reports surfaced that migrant children were being taken from their parents at the border. The order did not address what will happen to children and parents who are currently separated and in government custody. Update 3:20 p.m. EDT June 20: Trump signed the order, which will keep families together but continue the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, on Wednesday afternoon. >> From Jamie Dupree: President Trump to reverse course on immigrant family separations “We're keeping families together and this will solve that problem,” Trump said. “At the same time we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a ‘zero tolerance,’ we have zero tolerance for people who enter our country illegally.” Original report: Trump told reporters Wednesday that he will “be signing something in a little while” to address family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. >> Read more trending news “We want to keep families together, it’s very important,” Trump said. 'I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation I’m sure.”  It was not immediately clear what the president planned to sign. Trump has repeatedly called on Congress to change laws that he says mandates the family separations. There is no law that requires children be separated from parents at the border. He blamed Democrats for the continued separations in a Wednesday morning tweet, but he added that he was “working on something.” The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was drafting an executive action for Trump that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to keep migrant families together at the border. Nielsen does not believe Congress will act to resolve the issue of migrant family separations, the AP reported, citing two unidentified sources familiar with the matter. She’s working with officials from other agencies, including the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, to draft the executive action.  The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. Parents have been separated from their children as they face prosecution. Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The executive action Nielson is drafting “wouldn’t end the zero tolerance policy, but would aim to keep families together and ask the Department of Defense to help house the detained families,” according to the AP.