Images of weeping children and anguished, confused parents were splashed across newspapers and television.
The zero-tolerance policy over the summer was meant in part to deter families from illegally crossing the border. Trump administration officials say the large increase in the number of Central American families arriving between ports of entry has vastly strained the system.
According to the government data, from April 19 through Sept. 30, 170 family units were separated because they were found to not be related — that included 197 adults and 139 minors. That could also include grandparents or other relatives if there was no proof of relationship. Other separations were because the children were not minors, the data showed.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday rejected the idea of paying for Trump’s border wall in exchange for helping hundreds of thousands of young immigrants avoid deportation.
Funding for the wall — a top Trump priority — and legal protections for so-called Dreamers, a key Democratic goal, should not be linked, Pelosi said. Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol vehicle just inside San Diego after climbing over the border barrier from Mexico.
“They’re two different subjects,” she said. Pelosi will likely be the new speaker in the next Congress, when Democrats will control the House. The Senate will remain in Republican hands.
Her comments came as the House and Senate approved a stopgap bill Thursday to keep the government funded through Dec. 21. The measure, approved by voice votes in near-empty chambers, now goes to the White House.
Trump promised to sign the two-week extension to allow for ceremonies this week honoring former President George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30. But he wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for his proposed wall, something Democrats have rejected.
Trump is set to meet Tuesday at the White
House with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
Most Democrats consider the wall “immoral, ineffective, expensive,” said Pelosi, noting that Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for it, an idea that Mexico has repeatedly ridiculed.
Schumer said Thursday that a bipartisan Senate plan for $1.6 billion in border security funding does not include money for the 30-foot concrete wall Trump has envisioned.
“This is something Democrats have always been for: smart, effective, appropriate border security,” he said on the Senate floor.